The Last Dispensation—The Saints’ Religion Practical—Hostility to God’s Work—Divisions in Sectarian Churches—Unity of the Saints—Early History of Utah—“Mormon” Thrift and Enterprise—The One-Man Power—God’s People a Free People—Increase of Corruption—The Saints Hopeful

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered at the General Conference, Salt Lake City, Friday Afternoon, April 7, 1882.

I regard the mission of the Latter-day Saints as the most important that has fallen to the lot of man because we, as the people of God, live in the most important period of the world’s age—the dispensation of the fulness of times, in which the God of heaven has set his hand a second time to recover his people, the house of Israel; to lay the foun dation of the fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers through Moses and the Prophets, and to bring to pass the covenants made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and those made with Joseph the son of Jacob, concerning his seed. The Book of Mormon gives a brief history of a portion of the house of Joseph who came to this land from Palestine, their native land; and, it not only gives an account of this people but it foretells their future. A great future lies before this people in connection with the Latter-day work.

Our mission is not a mission of blood; it is not a mission of war, of strife or contention, but a mission of peace on earth and good will to men; a mission to bring life and salvation unto the children of men who will receive it; a mission to make known the things that God has revealed for the happiness, glory and exaltation of his children, both in this world and the world to come. And what God has revealed to us, which we call our religion, is not only theoretical but eminently practiced. It could not be otherwise and be the Gospel of life and salvation. A religion that is exclusively theoretical, that is merely a matter of faith producing no legitimate works or fruits of that faith is dead. There are many dead forms of religion in the world; and as a matter of course they are without force and effect. But the Gospel of the Son of God revealed anew from heaven in our age and time, and which his people have espoused, is a living faith, producing in its votaries its legitimate fruits—love, joy, peace and good works. I am sorry to say, however, that we are not all examples of that living faith to the extent that God requires at our hands. In this respect it is with us as it was with others who preceded us; some of the seed lies fallen by the way side, producing little effect in them that received it; some has fallen in stony places, and as anciently, such rejoice for the time being, but alas! when tribulation or persecution arises, they having not much depth of soil, are easily uprooted. Some again has fallen among thorns, and the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But blessed are those who break up the fallow ground of their hearts, thereby preparing themselves by suitable reflection, meditation, humility and prayer, overcoming the evil that is in them by the good, that the seed when sown, may take deep root and spring forth and bear precious fruit, some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred fold, according to the depth of the soil and the strength and cultivation of the mind.

I said our religion was eminently practical, as true religion cannot be separated from true practice. It teaches us to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world; it teaches charity and love one toward another, and to assist to bear each other’s burdens, and be one in Christ Jesus. Just before the Savior was offered up upon the cross he prayed to his Father in behalf of his disciples and those who should believe on him through their ministrations, that they might be one with him as he was one with the Father.

Now it is quite a fine thing in the estimation of the Christian world to preach about Jesus and his doctrines; but when it comes to practice it is quite another thing. One of the main objects of the Latter-day Saints is to become united, both spiritually and temporally. The clergymen of America who have been foremost in working up the late furor against the “Mormon” people, who have met in solemn conclave and dictated resolutions and gotten up memorials to Congress, and who have traveled and visited the noted cities as lecturers, among whom may be mentioned the celebrated Parson Newman and the celebrated—what shall I say?—well, Mr. Schuylar Colfax, and others, have aroused the nation and moved the members of Congress to hostile legislation against the Latter-day Saints. Their general declaration has been that polygamy—though polygamy was the war-cry—was not to be dreaded like “Mormon” unity. They term it priestly influence, or the influence of the “Mormon” hierarchy. In reflecting upon this declaration which was freely expressed on numerous occasions during last winter and spring, in the tirades made against the Latter-day Saints, it has caused some curious reflections. What would have been the result if the Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Baptists and all the prominent denominations of America, had been true disciples of Christ, and had come under that rule laid down in the Savior’s prayer—if they had all become one in Christ as he was one with the Father? What would have been the result? Methinks things would be very different in the history of American government from what we now see. We will refer, for example, to the condition of things prior to the late civil war, and about the time the republican party incorporated in their platform at the Philadelphia convention in 1856, the celebrated plank known as the twin relics—in which they pledged themselves to exterminate the twin relics, slavery and polygamy. What was the condition of the religious sects of America at that time? Those who are familiar with the history of those times will remember that preparatory to that great struggle which resulted in the great civil war, there had been a complete separation and two distinct organizations of all the prominent sects of America. The Methodist church was divided into the Methodist church north and the Methodist church south; the Presbyterians were divided into the Presbyterian Church north and the Presbyterian church south; the Baptists, the Campbellites and the other various sects were divided in like manner, the Mason and Dickson line, as it was called, was the line of division between the churches north and the churches south; and substantially the same line marked the boundary between the southern confederacy and northern. States during the war, for the division commenced in the churches, and it was the various religious sects of America that worked up the war. They divided one against another, and brought on the war. And when the Northern and Southern armies were marching against and slaying each other by hundreds of thousands, every regiment and division of the army on both sides were encouraged by the prayers and preaching of their respective chaplains of the various sects on both sides, each praying for the success of their arms, that each side might succeed in using up the opposite side.

Now imagine them, for a moment, to be the true disciples of Christ, Ministers of the true and everlasting Gospel holding power and authority from him. What would have been the result if the Lord had heard the prayers of the religious elements of these two contending parties? The only thing we can think of as expressing the idea, is the old fable of the Kilkenny cats, which, it is said, fought each other and devoured each other all but the tails, and they began to jump at each other. From the results one would suppose that the Lord heard the prayers on both sides to a con siderable extent. But it is too serious a matter to be treated in a jocose style. And, yet, one can hardly resist the temptation, it is so ludicrous to see people professing the same holy religion, to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus and his righteousness, and preachers of his Gospel arrayed on each side, stirring up the people to war, urging them on, and praying to the same God for the success of each others’ arms. Now, I ask, is this an ensample of Christian unity such as the Savior prayed for, when he asked the Father that all that should believe on him through the words of his disciples might become one even as he and the Father were one?

The Latter-day Saints, as I have before remarked, are far from being as yet what the Lord requires them to be. But that spirit which accompanies the fulness of the Gospel, and which the Latter-day Saints have received through the preaching of the Gospel and through obedience to its requirements, has so far made their hearts as one, causing them to see eye to eye, and to gather together upon this land of Joseph, that they might learn more fully the ways of the Lord and walk in his paths, and cultivate the Christian unity which the Savior prayed for. And this appears to be the head and front of our offending. Polygamy is ostensibly the cry; but what reflecting man that is posted in the history of the times, believes that this has a particle of influence upon our statesmen? They admit, according to their own showing, that there is more immorality, depravity, whoredom, and the terrible consequences of the social evil in one of the great cities of the Union in a single year than has been in Utah ever since it has been founded. They know this full well. They know that we are a people of energy, of industry and honest labor, a people who do not labor with a view and desire to build ourselves up at the expense and ruin of our neighbors; but a people who labor to gather from the elements around us, producing the comforts of life for ourselves and families. They recognize in us a people who have planted a flourishing commonwealth in the heart of the great American desert, and made it possible to populate the surrounding Territories.

In 1847, the standard of the American nation was planted on this Temple block. I assisted in planting it; and many around me today participated in those early scenes. At the same time the country lying west of the Sierra Nevada and between it and the Pacific Coast, was held under the American flag by the Mormon Battalion, who under General Kearney captured the State of California from the Mexican government and held it for the United States government until this country was ceded to the United States by treaty on the 22nd of February, 1848. The stars and stripes were planted between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Sierra Nevadas west by “Mormon” colonies, and west to the Pacific coast by the “Mormon Battalion,” and, the country held for the American government. We proceeded to the establishment and organization of civil government. This great basin country between the mountains was incorporated into the State of Deseret, a provisional government was organized for the State of Deseret, a republican constitution was framed and adopted by the people; the country was divided into counties and precincts, local government was organized, laws adopted and delegates sent to Congress to ask for admission into the Union. At the same time the gold hunters were flocking to California after the “Mormon Battalion” revealed the first gold which they brought to light while dragging Captain Sutter’s mill race. Some of the men are still in our midst who brought about these results, who first revealed to the astonished world the gold of California, and who raised the first furor, which resulted in thousands flocking to the Pacific coast. And mark you, the first colony of settlers upon that Pacific coast after the capture of that country through the valor of the “Mormon Battalion,” was a “Mormon” colony shipped from the New England States, who took with them a printing press, and planted their feet upon the shores of San Francisco, and there issued the California Star, in 1847, which was the first publication in the English language west of the Rocky Mountains—the first free press hailing the American flag and proclaiming American liberty, the principles of free government; and at the same time we planted a free press in this city, whence was issued the DESERET NEWS, proclaiming those principles to all the world.

Both California and Deseret presented themselves at the same time, through their delegates, knocking at the door of Congress, praying for admission into the Union. The prayer of California was accepted; that of Deseret was rejected.

Jesus had occasion to ask this question of the Jews: If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will ye give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? It might ill become me perhaps, to apply these words to our national government; but the facts are that when we presented ourselves as the State of Deseret, precisely on equal footing with that of California, with equally a democratic government and republican constitution, both of which States had been organized out of the old Mexican States of Upper California, and which had been recently captured from the Mexican government, and presented themselves to Congress on equal footing; one was accepted, the other rejected. Instead of granting to Deseret a State government, Congress gave us a territorial form of government under the Organic act of 1850. It is true it extended to us certain rights of self-government, but to a limited extent. We had the right of representation in the Legislative Assembly, but those rights were clipped by the absolute veto of a Federal Governor; nor, indeed, is the absolute veto of a Federal Governor the only veto held over the Territorial Legislature, Congress itself reserving to itself a right to annul the acts of the Legislative Assembly, though receiving the signature of the Governor. But if the Governor chooses to withhold his signature no matter how wholesome or necessary the measure, it cannot become law, nor would he be, under the Organic Act, required to assign any reason for it. The mere whim of a man, a stranger to our country who has but little, if any, practical knowledge of our needs, and who himself is not a taxpayer, probably may deprive a whole community of people of their legal rights. Such is the territorial form of government, not of all Territories, for with the exception of Utah and New Mexico, this absolute veto power does not exist on American soil. Other Territories as well as the States, and the United States, may, through a two-thirds vote of their legislature, pass any measure over the veto of its executive.

But what does this signify? It says to us, “we are not willing to trust you with the rights and privileges of self-government in common with other American citizens; and it is deemed advisable that we should hold this check upon your legislature.” But notwithstanding we have been shut out from Statehood, we have prospered and grown into a flourishing community of people.

On several occasions we have renewed our efforts by appealing to Congress for the rights of self-government; but on every occasion we have been put off. But we have continued to prosper, and yet we have received no aid from the general government in establishing and maintaining schools, as other portions of the country have. We have built our schoolhouses and maintained our schools, and educated our children as best we could. And here let me say that Utah will compare favorably in educational matters with any portion of the United States, even the older and richer States; and while the number of children is three times that of other populations, yet, they are all enjoying the benefits of a common school education at least; and as the higher schools are being established the facilities for more extensive education are accessible.

We have opened up farms and established towns and cities over this vast country, of 500 miles in extent. We have established mills and have produced the various cereals and vegetables and fruits, and raised the beef and mutton, and the wool to supply our factories, and cotton, to manufacture to a considerable extent, the clothing that we wear; and we have manufactured to a considerable extent our farming implements, and yet we are under the necessity of largely importing manufactured goods. And, today, Utah enjoys prosperity equal, if not superior to any other Territory, and, indeed, some of the Western States.

Now these are facts patent to the world. And with such facts can they in their inmost souls look upon this people as a vicious people, or as a wicked, licentious people, as a people who are influenced by worldly considerations and fleshly lusts? Are these the works of the licentious and dissolute? We invite the people of the United States to attend our Sabbath School Unions and attend the public gatherings of the people where they congregate; we invite their statesmen and honorable men and women of all classes to come and visit us and learn facts as they exist, instead of swallowing greedily the malicious calumnies and misrepresentations set afoot concerning us by those who know little or nothing about us; or if they have known anything about us, they have sold themselves to the Devil long since, and they are of their father the Devil, who was a liar from the beginning, and his works they will do; and when honest people come among us we ask them not to sit themselves down and allow themselves to be corralled by the lying hypocrites that are fanning the flame of persecution, and never come in contact with the people they desire to know and understand. Why is it that honorable men should act as though they were ashamed to learn the truth? Why is it they do not come and hear and see for themselves both sides?

We are accused of disloyalty. We are accused of being governed by priestcraft, and that we are subjects of the one-man power. Here we would pause and respectfully say, in the language of Scripture, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Where, I would ask, could we look for a more decidedly marked expression of the one-man power than in the case we have recently had in Utah, in which the Governor gave the certificate of election to the man for whom the insignificant number of 1,300 votes was cast, withholding it from the rightful representative of the people for whom 18,000 votes were recorded? The persistency with which he and his friends, the enemies of this people, have sought to fasten this fraud upon the people in this Territory, not to say anything about the one-man power provided for in the organic act! A federal governor, a stranger sent among us with an absolute veto, possessing the power to wipe out the doings of a whole session of the people’s representatives!

I will further direct attention to all reflecting men to the scenes in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States when the Edmunds’ bill was put through under what is called the gag law of the previous question, cutting off amendments and limiting debate. I will appeal to every honest man—if there be an honest politician in the land—by asking, Who among them possesses the freedom of speaking and acting only in obedience to the party lash, and what Senator or Representative dare try to air his sentiments or vote contrary to the dictum of his party leaders? Shame upon them when they talk about the exercise of one-man power in Utah! If there is a people upon the earth that exercise greater freedom of speech or action than the Latter-day Saints, I hope and pray that we may grow until we become their equals at least.

Every principle in our holy religion tends to freedom, or in the language of the New Testament, the Gospel is the perfect law of liberty. The reason that it is so is, because it lifts the spirits of man above the law, or, in other words, it teaches him to work righteousness and thereby escape the penalties of the law, and enables him to enjoy that perfect freedom which God has ordained for all flesh—the freedom to do right, but there is no liberty to do wrong without incurring the penalty of that wrongdoing, therefore, every one who does wrong must accept of the consequences of that wrong, and may expect to suffer the penalty either in time or in eternity. The Gospel then extends to us the freedom to do right, and the laws of our common country used to extend this right and privilege to its citizens. This was declared by the fathers in the famous Declaration of Independence, and which was consolidated by the fathers of the Constitution of our country, which was one of the fruits of their great struggle.

This famous declaration enunciated the doctrine that “all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed;” and upon this principle are the institutions of our country founded; and it is only through the guarantees of this fundamental doctrine underlying our institutions that there can be any freedom. This declaration of the fathers embodied in that celebrated instrument, signed on the 4th of July, 1876, is the embodiment of the principles of civil and religious liberty, such freedom as God has ever taught and sought to establish among his children from the beginning of the world. And whenever there has been a people who have listened to the voice of God, they have been made free, and oppression has been a stranger to them. The careful student of the Bible will at once perceive that everything which God sought to establish among his people, tended to freedom and the enjoyment of the common rights of humanity. Never did ancient Israel enjoy as free and happy a government as under the reign of the judges, from the time Moses led them out of Egyptian bondage until they clamored for a king. For 430 years they triumphed over their foes, and they dwelt in peace and unity, and love and freedom existed, and every tribe was a commonwealth managing its own local affairs, while they all sustained a central power which counseled and directed them; and their rulers were judges inspired of God, were prophets, seers and revelators, who judged in righteousness, and exercised no control over the liberties and consciences of men. The same principle is observed in reading the history of the American continent. The Book of Mormon is replete with testimony in this direction. And during the palmy days of the Nephites there was no king among them; and that long and happy period that preceded the coming of the Savior, and for hundreds of years that followed during the reign of the judges among the Nephites, liberty and freedom and happiness prevailed. And although they had at one time in accordance with their pronounced and persistent desire, a king—King Benjamin and King Mosiah—yet, these were kings more in name than in fact; they were only patriarchs or fathers among their people, and the term they apply to them might quietly have a tendency to cause them to augment power to themselves and to exercise oppressive jurisdiction over the people, and foreseeing this King Mosiah beseeched the people to abolish the office, and establish and maintain free government, and elect their chief judge or governor by the voice of the people. He reasoned and explained to them the dangers which would result to them by having a ruler who was not elected by the people. When Israel began to fall into darkness and transgression, in the days of Samuel, and they clamored for a king to lead them to war and thus be like the Gentile nations around them, it grieved Samuel the Seer to his heart; and he besought the people to desist from their determination, and he warned them of the dangers that would follow, telling them that it would lead to oppression and tyranny, and that taxes would be levied and heavy burdens would be laid upon the people grievous to be borne, and that it would finally lead to war, bloodshed and bondage. But they would not listen. And when the prophet inquired of the Lord what he should do, he answered and said to Samuel: “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”

Furthermore, the Book of Mormon tells that God will cause a free government to be established upon this land in the latter days, and inasmuch as the people will serve the Lord they shall forever be a free people. And in the Doctrine and Covenants is contained a revelation which was given to the Latter-day Saints in the early history of the Church, commanding us to uphold and maintain the principles of freedom and liberty, as claimed by our fathers and consolidated in the Constitution of the United States, and in which is written this remarkable declaration: “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God has no need to break the laws of the land;” and we are further told that we should uphold and maintain that law which is the Constitutional law of the land; for, the Lord said, the Constitution was established by wise men whom he raised up for that purpose, after the land had been redeemed by bloodshed. This doctrine was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith, in the early days of this people, and cannot be separated from the religion we have embraced; and by the help of the Lord we mean to maintain those principles to the end, notwithstanding that some of our American statesmen wax wanton in their feelings and tyrannical in their acts and expressions, while religious bigots and political demagogues are undermining the foundations of our American institutions. They commence today upon Utah; but it is not the first time. From the time the declaration was made in Philadelphia by the republican party there have been divers departures from those principles embraced in our American Constitution. Had the people of America listened to the voice of the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith, they would have long since freed their slaves in an amicable, an honorable and economical manner without the shedding of blood. But they disdained the counsels of the Lord. The Prophet Joseph published his views in pamphlet form on the powers and duties of the national government on the then much-mooted question of slavery, in which he treated upon the compact of the United States as between the North and South on this question of slavery; and proposed an easy and honorable plan of settling the question without violating that compact or encroaching upon the rights of each other; and that was, to negotiate with the Southern States for the gradual emancipation of their slaves, the consideration to be met by the national treasury, and fixing a time after which all children should be born free, thus providing for a gradual emancipation, and that they might not feel that they were robbed, and by their being gradually emancipated they would have been prepared gradually for free government and free labor, and thus the ill and unpleasant consequences would have been measurably averted, at least, of turning loose a horde of uncultivated people who were totally unprepared for American citizenship. Had they listened to this proposition, less than a tenth part of the cost of the war would have freed all the slaves, and that too without bloodshed, and the utter devastation of the Southern States would have been spared.

But we have seen it. And following the war has been inaugurated an era of degeneracy in public morals, degeneracy in politics and religion, a degeneracy in the minds of our statesmen which has shown itself in a desire on their part to tamper with the sacred rights of man, to tamper with every part of the government, not even excepting the Supreme Court, which, up to the time of the civil war, was looked upon by the American people as almost beyond temptation, and beyond the probability of being corrupted or bribed. But alas! the Supreme Court itself has been tam pered with. And for many years, almost from the commencement of that effort to break down the barriers of the Constitution and to settle this vexed question of slavery by violence—from that time politicians have sought to sustain themselves in violent, revolutionary and unconstitutional measures by foisting into the Supreme Court partisans who are already imbued with extreme political notions and ideas, whose carrying them with them on the bench has resulted in many decisions which after ages will greatly deplore and point out as the stepping stones to the destruction of our free institutions. But it remains for the Congress of the United States in 1882 to strike the blow at human freedom which places a vast people who have enjoyed their freedom in part only for 35 years in these mountains, at the disposal of a returning board to be sent here by the President. This is the object of the Edmunds’ bill. Its framers, its advocates and supporters scarcely expect anything from it toward the extinguishing of polygamy; but they do expect from it the transfer of our flourishing Territory into the hands of the enemies of the “Mormon” people. And they expect to disfranchise whom they will, and decide who may vote and who may hold office, who may become members of the Legislature, etc., and vice versa; and then dictate what laws they shall make, and then dictate how the people shall be taxed to pay their salaries and expenses, unless forsooth, Congress shall, according to the recommendation of President Arthur, reconsider that part of the law and make provision for their salaries.

It is not my purpose to attempt to foretell the consequences of this class of legislation. We shall all see for ourselves; but if our neighbors, our Gentile friends can stand it, we can; and if our nation can stand it, we can; and if our statesmen and the people who elect them and countenance their acts can stand it, we can; and if merchants, miners, bankers, agents, speculators, etc., among us can stand it, we can. If the taxes should be doubled up, and burdens put upon the people, and they can stand their share of it, we can stand ours, because we are used to it, and they are not. If they can confine themselves to one woman, I know we can. (Laughter.) The proof of the pudding you know, is in the eating. We do not intend to be worried; we have already passed through many very trying places, and we still expect to find an outlet. I am reminded often of our experience when traveling through some of the narrow gorges in our mountains; it often appears that our road has come to an end against a mountain, but when we get close up to it, we find a turn, and we keep traveling; and this is sometimes often repeated in a day’s travel, until, at last, our road opens out and a broad, beautiful valley is in sight, which never fails to bring feelings of relief to the weary traveler, especially if he is not familiar with the road. Such has been our experience in the pilgrimage of life up to the present time, and we confidently expect that He who has led us, through His Holy Priesthood, will continue to open up our way, and He will do so if we keep our covenants with Him. Amen.

The Marriage Question—Lawful Concubinage and Its Unlawful Counterfeit—Various Views Concerning the Union of the Sexes—Plural Marriage Among the Latter-day Saints—The Example and Character of Abraham—Exhortation to Justice and Equity—Christian Crimes in New England—Oppression With Its Real and Pretended Object—Fruits of “Mormonism”—Prisons and Penalties Powerless to Stop the Lord’s Work—The God-given Boon of Liberty to Man—The Final Triumph of His Cause

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered in the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, Sunday Afternoon, February 26th, 1882.

Since coming to the stand I have been requested to address the congregation.

I will read the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th verses of the 25th chapter of Genesis.

“And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.

Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.”

How far I shall confine myself to the matter contained in this passage I cannot say. The present eventful period of our lives, the prejudices which now move the people of our nation concerning us, and the pressure that is being brought upon us chiefly through the religious element of the country to influence Congress to extraordinary legislation against us, are perhaps, the reasons why my mind reverts to the historical facts contained in the Scripture I have just read, which was given unto us by men of old who, until quite a recent date, have been generally revered by all Christians; and even now a large majority of the Christian sects of America respect and reverence the ancient fathers, their teachings and writings while the sacred Book is closed, but ignore in their daily lives what those worthies believed and practiced.

The word translated concubine in this Scripture must not be confounded with the modern practice which obtains so largely in the great cities of Christendom, and with the more wealthy portions of old communities. I refer to the practice sometimes called concubinage, the practice of marrying under the law one wife, and at the same time keeping privately one or more mistresses who are not obtruded upon society, having no claim to the honored name of wife—a practice which permits those who indulge in it to gratify the carnal passions at the expense of public virtue; and at the risk of entailing disease upon unborn posterity, as well as at the expense of the present and eternal welfare of their partners, I will say in sin; for no right-minded, correct-thinking person can pronounce it otherwise than it has been pronounced by the sacred writers both of the Old and New Testament—a species of lewdness and, if not classed with open harlotry, a violation of sacred marital vows. Those who have solaced their consciences or justified themselves in this departure from law and public sentiment, no doubt feel partial justification from the practices of the ancients who were looked up to and revered; but such was not the concubinage of Abraham, nor any of the ancient patriarchs, such was not the system that obtained under the law of Moses in ancient Israel.

The word translated concubinage in King James version of the Bible, is translated by Luther and is found in Scandinavia and Germany, where the Lutheran translation still prevails, as meaning an associated wife. In the Danish Bible it is huustro for wife and medhustro for concubine; the sacred name of wife is given to both classes, the preposition med connecting them together and conveying the idea of the second class being an associated wife, or a wife in a secondary or subordinate position, in contradistinction to the first. Close students of the Bible have not failed to recognize this as being the character of the plural wives of Moses and the prophets. And it was practiced as an institution of the Jewish nation down to the coming of our Savior, and, so far as any scriptures appear in the New Testament, this institution was neither abrogated nor in anywise condemned, while harlotry and promiscuous intercourse of the sexes—adultery and fornication are condemned in the severest language.

We have a great variety of views in Christendom, as to the will and mind of God pertaining to the union of the sexes as relating to each other, to the state and to our present and future happiness. The Latter-day Saints regard the intercourse of the sexes, both in time and in eternity, as regulated by sacred law given by our Father in heaven who has organized us male and female for a wise purpose in Himself, and that purpose is made manifest in the first great command given to our first parents, namely, to multiply and replenish the earth. And the saying to the woman after her transgression as written in the book of Genesis, that her desires should be towards her husband and he should rule over her—the desires planted in the breast of the woman tending to draw to the opposite sex culminating in a union, is a wise dispensa tion of Providence for the accomplishing of the great end in view to encourage and stimulate them to multiply and replenish the earth, and take upon themselves the cares, labors, anxieties and responsibilities attending the rearing of families. And among the many different views entertained in Christendom concerning the commerce of the sexes we might say, there exists every variety of belief and practice growing out of these beliefs. We have in Christian America a religious sect—not very numerous to be sure—who held the union of the sexes to be sinful in any form whatever. This sect I hardly need say is the Shaking Quakers; and to become a member of their society—a person already married would be required to dissolve his marriage relationship; a husband and wife joining that society would be required to do the same, and to abstain from each other forever afterwards, all connection with the sexes being strictly forbidden as an evil that may be tolerated in the carnal world, but not among those who desire to appear pure and holy before the Lord. This first commandment referred to, as having been given to father Adam and mother Eve, was in the days of their purity, before their transgressions, when they were worthy to converse with God face to face; this being the case, if there was no other reason, what philosophy can condemn that command or a proper and just effort to keep it? There is no reason, to my mind, to condemn it, when regulated by law, as an act of impurity; to do so would be a direct reflection upon the wisdom and purity of God Himself.

Of course, this is the general view taken of it by Christian nations, as shown in their acts and in their laws regulating it. Although the Roman Catholic Church prohibits intercourse with the sexes to sacred orders, they being, according to the rites of the church forbidden to marry. And however much some may doubt the iniquity of their holy vows, it is a matter too well known to call in question. The more general sentiment of Christians recognizes the purity and uprightness of marriage of a man to one woman; and they quote the following words of the Apostle Paul to testify to it, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” But the majority of modern Christians consider that for a man to marry more than one wife while she lives and is his wife is sin. Now I will undertake to say respecting the two conditions of marriage, single and plural, that where the duties and obligations are the same, and the husband is equally honorable, just and virtuous, faithful and true to his wives and children, that there is not necessarily any greater impurity existing between such a man and his plural family, than between a man and his single family; that there is not necessarily a defilement of the marriage bed, that there is not necessarily defilement of the body or spirit. When the institution of marriage is founded in religious sentiment and is confirmed by the enduring love of husband, wives and children and the responsibilities attending that relationship, as we find it in many of the ancient worthies, there is not necessarily any defilement in plural marriage. There was not necessarily defilement in father Abraham and other ancient patriarchs and prophets who took to themselves a second or a third or a fourth wife, any more than there was in those who confined themselves to one wife. Nor have I ever heard from any creature and I have read and heard much and reflected much, because our institution of marriage has invited discussion and reflection upon this subject. I have never yet heard an argument that, to my mind, appeared sound against the marriage of an honorable man to two women any more than to one. And the only argument that has ever been presented that has had a semblance of soundness is the generally admitted fact of the near equality of the sexes which would seem to foreshadow the general purpose and design of providence that one man should have only one wife. I have never heard an argument relating to the physical effects of the institution, nor as relating to the state of society that could not be applied just as appropriately to monogamy. The opposers of plural marriage make many declarations against us which are untrue, which they do not understand because they accept the reports of certain persons who give way to a lying spirit, and misrepresent and belie people far better than themselves. The selfishness and weakness of human nature, the evils which manifest themselves from time to time between families and between husband and wife, and between wives and children are quoted as evils greatly to be deplored as growing out of this system. I will only say in regard to this, that those best acquainted with the intact workings of the system among the Latter-day Saints throughout all of their settlements, if they testify honestly and truthfully as to the result of their careful observations extending over a period of over thirty years—the time that this system of plural marriage has been practiced by us in these mountains, they would, in effect, say, that there is less discontent, less strife and fewer family broils and less divorce, and less casting off wives and casting upon the community of children without care, than would be found in the same number of monogamic families. And I may here say, that statistics will bear me out in making this assertion. To those who are not posted in the matter this may appear incredible; and the majority of the Christian world would think it impossible judging from their standpoint; and what they see and hear among themselves, and judging by the spirit by which they are animated, they would, I admit, pronounce this a thing impossible. But it is simply because they are not imbued with the faith of the Latter-day Saints, and this being the case they cannot understand the motives that prompt us to enter into this relationship. They cannot comprehend the spirit that governs us, the devout Godfearing spirit of self-sacrifice which leads us onward to all that is noble, forbearing and long-suffering, that teaches us to love one another and to be charitable to all men, and which teaches us that the relationships which we make through the marriage covenant are but the foundation of eternal glory and exaltation in the worlds to come; and it also teaches us that the glories of the future that open up before us are greatly dependent upon the faithfulness of our relationships and associations in this life; and that a man must be found capable to properly govern and guide his family and preserve in time the wives and children that are given to him, leading them in the way of life and salvation, and rearing his children in all that is pure and praiseworthy, so that he can receive them in the morning of the first resurrection, there to have the Father confirm upon him his wives and children, the foundation of his individual kingdom which will exist forever and ever. The outside world cannot comprehend this, and simply because they cannot believe it. It is this same religious sentiment that prompts women and the best of women, the most devout women, women of the purest motive and character to enter into this sacred relationship, and to cause them to determine in their own minds that they would sooner be associated with a man who has proven himself a man of integrity, a man of strict virtue and honor, who can be relied upon by God and man—they would rather trust themselves with such a man than to be the only wife of a man devoid of these qualifications, a man who, perhaps, for the want of such high motives would be the victim of many vices, of whoredom of concubinage or illicit intercourse with the sexes, and defile himself and destroy the confidence of his family in him, or he would perhaps indulge in drunkenness and other kindred vices which would be the means of producing the same result. And such has been the experience of many women in monogamy. And I do not say that the weaknesses of mankind do not manifest themselves in plural families; I do not say that there are not some who may be urged on by fleshy lust, but if there are it results in their making shipwreck of their faith and becoming, in time, a lasting disgrace to themselves. But where there is one example of this kind, under our polygamic system, there are at least two under the monogamic order that might be cited, who make shipwreck of their faith, who sacrifice their honor, and whose family send forth a wail of grief for the loss of confidence in husband and father. Adultery, fornication, whoredom, God will judge; every form of licentiousness He has condemned in His word from the beginning of the world to the present. And if follies are manifested by some who profess to be Latter-day Saints in this direction, so we may cite similar weakness manifested by ancient men of God; not, however, to justify such cases but merely as examples of human weaknesses.

Referring again to Abraham, and his wife Sarai. They are held up in sacred Scripture as models of noble character, purity of purpose, piety, devotion and superior integrity to God, who hesitated not to obey Him at all hazards even to the sacrifice of that which was nearest and dearest unto them. This Sarai, one of the noblest of women, received the promise of her son Isaac while in old age, a promise made to her by the angel of God, and this because of her barrenness and because too of the integrity of her heart towards her husband and her willingness to sacrifice her womanly feeling in giving to her husband other wives. And after she had given to Abraham Hagar, that she might bear him children, mark the Scripture: It was for the purpose that he might not be childless because she was childless. It was after she had thus sacrificed her womanly feeling, thereby manifesting her love and integrity to her husband, that the Lord had compassion upon her and granted the desire of her heart, promising her that she should in course of time bring forth a son, and telling her that his name should be Isaac, in whom and in whose seed all the nations of the earth were to be blessed. And it was after this lad was partly grown, that God commanded Abraham to take this promised child on to the Mount Moriah, and there build an altar and offer him up as a sacrifice. Abraham in this was tried as few men ever were tried; for his love was great for his son whom he would naturally regard as a special gift of the Lord to him, through whom no less a personage than the Messiah himself should come. Yet Abraham doubted not, he paused not to consider what the possible result might be of keeping this command; but he trusted in God as Paul said of him, “that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” He trusted in God and doubted not; and proceeded to Mount Moriah and there built an altar, and when everything was in readiness he bound the lad, and while in the act of raising the deadly knife, he heard a voice saying, “Abraham, Abraham, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing that thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” And then the Lord went on to say, that because of this willingness on the part of Abraham to obey Him even to the sacrificing of his only son, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore,” etc. Now, I will give back unto you your son, and in blessing I will bless him and multiply him, and in him and his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. It was because of this precious promise, no doubt, that he desired to give his sons opportunities to develop and to make manifest among the surrounding tribes the character that was in him, that he divided out his goods and gave gifts to the sons of the other wives and sent them away, but gave his chief inheritance to his son Isaac.

While contemplating this I can hardly refrain from dropping a word of exhortation to my brethren who may be drawing near the close of life, not to neglect to make such disposition of their worldly effects as will suitably provide for their wives and children while they (the brethren) yet live, following the example of Abraham, not that by any means would I encourage this example in all particulars; for it is not always as it was in the case of Abraham that God has made choice of one particular son in whom their seed shall be called; but common justice and equity requires of every father to deal fairly with each wife and child according as God has dealt with him in this world’s goods, that he may retain their esteem after he shall have departed from them. Nor should he trust too much to the uncertainty of courts at the present time; for we have in too many instances seen to our sorrow that federal courts, whenever they have had it in their power, or wherever they could, either by strained construction of the law, or by omissions of the law, wrong a plural family by giving to the first wife and her heirs that which should have been equitably divided among all the family, they have never missed the opportunity of doing it, thinking that by bringing oppression and injustice to bear they will succeed in discouraging the practice of this system of marriage. There is nothing in the faith of the Latter-day Saints or in the laws of God touching this matter that would prompt aught but justice and equality to all the wives and children. The duty of the husband is plain in this respect. And the duty of all wives and chil dren is to love each other and the husband and father; all cherishing that love of the Gospel which binds our hearts together, and which alone can carry us through the trials and tribulations of life, and lift us up at the last day.

One would suppose from the hue and cry abroad in the land, which emanates chiefly from the clergy, that they are afraid the institutions of the Latter-day Saints will contaminate the whole land. What hypocrisy! I can hardly exercise patience sufficient to treat it with any degree of sobriety.

I am a native-born American; I was reared in the State of Vermont. In my early days the doctrine taught to our first parents, to multiply and replenish the earth, was popular; but during the period of my life that has elapsed, it has been almost totally ignored by the social circles of New England. When I last visited the old homestead, an old aunt nearly ready to go into her grave, told me that it was irregular for people nowadays to have large families. And it seems that this is the prevailing sentiment of that region; for in traveling through New England it was rarely I saw a woman with more than two or three children. Any of the older families, those honored matrons of New England, who lived contemporary with my mother, thought it honorable to raise large families; but my old aunt who was one of the last of that stock, has, by giving way to allowing the influence of death, has imbibed false notions; and when she thus expressed herself to me I knew she was not speaking the honest sentiments of her heart. Today infanticide and feticide are popular. Modern doctors and doctresses have arisen, men and women who are skilled in what are called the diseases of women, whose special practice is preventing fecundity, thereby securing to husband and wife the pleasures of self-gratification without bearing the responsibilities of maternity, and the trouble and expense of rearing children. These doctors and doctresses and the American students who have learned to practice their hellish arts, are today engaged in undermining the constitutions of wives and mothers; yes, child murder, this damnable doctrine of devils has become popular throughout New England, and is fast spreading over the American continent. And now it is the Irish woman, who believes in raising children, the foreign element that comes to the country that are considered the vulgar people; and were it not for this flood of foreign immigration the staid New England element would soon become extinct, and I say, in the name of Israel’s God, the sooner the better unless they repent of their murders, their whoredoms and their abominations that ascend to the heavens and are a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty. And, yet, it is this New England element whose garments are stained with the blood of innocence, that has found its way through our western States, thus has worked heart and soul with the hireling priesthood in firing up the national heart, and that is urging on hostile legislation against the best and purest people that exist upon the American continent. Is it public morality they seek? Is it the cause of public and private morality they champion? If so, we may repeat what we have so often said, which is so extremely unwelcome for them to hear: Weed your garden first at home, and then let your virtues be directed to the crying evils and sins of your large cities; and let child murder cease, and hang those infernal doctors who by means of their hellish arts are destroying the life of your offspring, and thus preventing the fulfillment of the first great command that God gave to our first parents; first petition Congress to pass laws to deal with the murderers and murderesses of the nation, the adulterers and adulteresses and all those who deal in shame, through whose wickedness the seeds of decay and death are transmitted to posterity. But methinks I hear one say, if this were done, and the laws were enforced, the large majority of the nation would be convicted. And it reminds me of a remark made recently by a gentleman in Congress. It was proposed that the bill, now being urged in Congress against polygamy, be so amended as to include adultery; the gentleman to whom the proposition was made was at first inclined to endorse the amendment, but on reflection, he turned to his friend and said, if that be done it would leave us without a quorum in the House. No, my friends, it is not adultery they wish to punish; it is not whoredom they wish to punish; it is not the cause of public or private virtue they champion; it is merely the hue and cry of the bigotry of our time against a people who are aiming at a higher morality than now exists, who are aiming to do away with and effectually destroy out of their midst the evil that is sapping the strength and vitality of our nation—a community that does not seek to shun the responsibility and the cares and labors and expense and trouble of rearing families and of educating them and making their children honorable men and women, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, citizens of the state and defenders of human liberty.

We are accused of being governed by priestcraft, and priestly influence. I do not believe there is any portion of this community in any part of the land who are moved by priestly influence to half the extent that Judge Edmunds and the advocates of the bill that he champions against us are; and their consciences must teach them that they are hypocrites, and that they are but pandering to bigotry, and that their acts are not the acts of statesmen, but the acts of cringing politicians and demagogues. The priesthood of the Latter-day Saints belongs not to the lords but the commons; to men who have helped make the roads, to build the bridges and to kill the snakes; to men who have battled with the difficulties of a new country, and who by their hardihood and toil have subdued the wastes and redeemed the desert; men who have turned the mountain streams out of their course on to the new and virgin soil, making the land fruitful with fields and farms, gardens, orchards and vineyards; men who build houses, mills and factories, schoolhouses and churches, and who raise families and who take care of and educate their children. These are the men who hold the Priesthood, and who wield an influence in the midst of this people; and this class of men is properly represented in the legislature now in session, and they are asked to step down and out and let the government of the country pass into the hands of adventurers. Not that I would insinuate that there are not a goodly number of honorable men among us who are engaged in legitimate business pursuits, men who could be trusted to administer the government affairs of the Ter ritory if they would follow their own hearts and consciences, and not allow themselves to be bulldozed as certain members of Congress are by the hireling Priesthood of the age. We could trust the judgment of such men; we could trust their natural good sense, and their business habits; but there are few who can be trusted to stand like a towering rock in the midst of the raging ocean, proof against the waves and surges of popular prejudice that pass over the land. And because of this the Latter-day Saints have been chary with regard to whom they exalt to power; and the few that have their confidence in this respect, are men who have never robbed or betrayed them. And honorable business men, bankers, merchants, miners, railroad men, etc., who have no political or religious standing to jeopardize are satisfied that the affairs of our Territory have been administered honorably and honestly.

Tricksters and adventurers clamor for free schools, but how many of them and those whose sentiments they voice really want to support them? A hobby is a nice thing to ride, and such people have many, but they must be hobbies that do not cost much. It is rumored throughout the land that the children of the Latter-day Saints are growing up in ignorance; those who utter those statements either know nothing of what they say, or they willfully and deliberately lie. Some may think these are hard words; it is language admissible under the circumstances, and it is easy to understand, plain and right to the subject, and I mean every word of it. The statistics of the country bear me out in it; and whoever will examine the census for the last decade may satisfy themselves on this point, namely, that percentage of illiteracy in Utah is less than one-half of that of the whole United States. They say the offspring of plural marriage tends to idiocy as well as illiteracy, which, however, is fallacious and clearly without foundation in fact. Let men of discernment and honor pass through our land, examine our schools and see the turnout of our forty thousand children at our Sabbath schools, and hear the questions put to them and their answers to the same; let them attend our children’s jubilees in our Tabernacle and look upon fifteen thousand faces radiant with youth and beauty, and hear their songs and other exercises, and they may at once satisfy themselves whether the children of the Latter-day Saints are either ignorant or idiotic. The late census shows that Utah’s percentage of idiocy, as well as illiteracy, is more than fifty percent less than that of the United States; it may also show that nowhere upon the American continent is there a place of the same age as Utah that has so many common schools in which are taught the common branches of an English education, and that too without a dollar’s aid from the general government. And our numerous children are all well cared for; and if we cannot indulge in all the excesses of fashion that are common in aristocratic circles, we are content to know that we are doing well; we are content where our wives are well housed, well fed and well clothed with fair advantages of education, self reliant and loving one another. And we are satisfied that ere long they will be a tower of strength in the land, not to menace the institutions of our country as enemies, as foolish men and women insinuate; not to menace public morality or private virtue; but to the contrary, when the nation, ripe in sin and iniquity, led on by reckless demagogues and politicians, shall applaud the acts of the legislators and judges and leading men in laying the axe deep in the tree of liberty, until they shall sap the juices that give life to our institutions, and thus undermine the foundation of good government, it will be sons and daughters of polygamous Utah, that will be found the true friends of human liberty, the true friends of that heaven-born freedom that has come to us through the fathers of our nation. The love of liberty is born in them, and human liberty is a part of the everlasting gospel; and God Almighty has decreed—and let Judge Edmunds and Congress and all the world hear it—that the gospel of the kingdom is established, never more to be thrown down or given to another people, that its destiny is to grow and increase and spread abroad until it shall fill the whole earth, and no power in earth or hell can stop it. “O, but,” say they, “we are going to imprison you polygamists and disfranchise you.” Supposing you do stop our voting, will that stop our tongues? “O, but we’ll imprison you.” Imprison and be damned, [Amen, by voices in the congregation] for you will be damned anyhow. [Laughter.] “We will imprison your wives, too, and we will not only stop from voting the men who have more than one wife, and we will not only stop the second or third, but also the first wife from voting.” And why? Because she, like Sarah of old, gave to her husband other wives. Some of the lawmakers of our nation would not only imprison Abraham were he living now, and also his plural wives, but they would disfranchise and imprison Sarah, his first wife, because she consented to his marrying other wives.

Well, this war is not a war of flesh and blood. We are not going to fight it with swords and cannons and weapons, but by the power of truth, by the word of God, and the eternal principles that our fathers fought for and established upon this American continent, and which God has decreed shall prevail upon this land. And blessed are they whose lives are bent on maintaining the principles of civil and religious liberty, for they will reap their reward, if not in this life, in the hereafter.

In all ages when the people of God listened to the voice and counsel of apostles and prophets, they enjoyed the blessings growing out of human freedom, and the tyranny and oppression of kings and rulers was impossible. There never was a kingly power placed over ancient Israel except against the remonstrance of the prophets; and it will be remembered, especially in the case of Israel when they openly clamored for a king to rule over them and to lead them to battle, how that Samuel warned them and plead with them, foreseeing, as he did, what the results would be. And the students of the Book of Mormon know how the Nephites progressed in establishing the principles of civil and religious liberty, and how that freedom extended throughout their borders, and how that prosperity and greatness attended their administrations under the counsels and teachings of the wise and just men who lived in their day.

Those who suppose that prisons and penalties are going to stop the spirit of truth in its onward march to triumph and greatness, or the influence and power of the truths of heaven which God has established in the hearts of the Latter-day Saints, comprehend not the designs of God, nor the spirit by which this people is actuated, that spirit which is leading them on and which enabled them to take joyfully the spoiling of their goods in Missouri and Ohio, and which still will enable them to sacrifice their all for the sake of the liberties of the everlasting Gospel, if God shall permit it to be so. What are houses and lands, what are goods and chattels, what is this city or thousands of cities like this compared with the liberties of the Gospel, the principles of worshipping and serving God according to His revealed will? God still lives who has led us all our life long to these valleys, and He will guide and direct our steps. But oh how strange that men pretending to be statesmen should read history so poorly as to suppose that by might and power, by bonds and penalties they can chain men’s thoughts or prevent them from acting according to their convictions. The power of might may destroy me—destroy you; it may break up homes and demolish cities, but it will be like the Canada thistle when it first made its appearance in New England. This weed was a great pest to the farmers, and it became a question among that class how to prevent its spreading. Some attempted to dig the thistles out, but they would spring up again all around the old stalk, and it was conceded by others that they could not be controlled. There was one man who owned a plantation who was determined to work vigorously for their extinction upon their first appearance on his land; and so determined was he that when he first discovered their whereabouts upon his plantation he built a log heap over them and set fire to it, leaving a pile of ashes to mark the spot where the thistles appeared. On the following season, to his great surprise, he found that where the log heap stood there was a perfect bed of Canada thistles, that the ashes left from the fire was just the food for the thistle to thrive on. So you will find it will be with us. After political demagogues and hireling priests and adventurers shall have expended their strength in trying to dig up and fire out of the land what they term “Mormonism.”

May the Lord help us to prove true to the trust that He has reposed in us, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

The Indians—The Influence of the Elders Among Them in the Interest of Peace, Etc.

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at Logan, Sunday Afternoon, February 5th, 1882.

I am asked to occupy the few minutes yet remaining: If the Spirit gives me liberty I will pursue the train of thought that has passed through my mind while Brother Richards has been speaking upon the spirit that has gone abroad upon the remnants of the house of Israel who occupy this land, the American Indians whom we understand to be the descendants of the Nephites, the Lamanites, the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites who formerly possessed this land, whose fathers we have an account of in the Book of Mormon. Those who are most familiar with their history, and with the history of our settlements in these mountains for the last thirty years—the manner in which we have sent out our colonies to locate upon the land of the Lamanites: the manner in which we have treated with them to obtain their consent and approval to occupy and improve the land which they claim; the manner in which we have moved among them to maintain ourselves and to build the towns and cities which are now inhabited by our people throughout this mountain region: the manner in which we have sent out missionaries in advance of our colonies to open up the way, carrying with them the spirit of the holy Gospel, the spirit of peace, the spirit of love and brotherhood, to endeavor to impress them with the belief that we were not men of blood, but that we were a people who cherished and cultivated the spirit of peace; the course we have taken when difficulties would arise between them and our settlements, which occasionally would occur through the indiscretion of thoughtless and selfish men, to settle the same in a friendly, peaceful way, thereby avoiding bloodshed and war; and the spirit in which we have chastised them when it became necessary to do so, not in malice nor revenge, but as a father would chastise his wayward child, and then as soon as possible pour into their wounds the oil and the wine to heal them up again—those, I say, who are best acquainted with our labors in this direction will best appreciate the results.

I have had much experience during the last twenty years in this direction; and have, by means of the spirit of the Gospel, averted much war and bloodshed.

Wherever our colonies have been sent in advance, their influence has been felt for good—not alone to them, not only has it tended to establish confidence and a bond of friendship between the natives and our colonies, but it has also tended to restrain the uprising in their hearts to war against the white race, and has thus promoted peace to our General Government, the misrepresentations and the lying of our enemies to the contrary notwithstanding.

We know there are today, as there always have been, men who are suspicious and full of green-eyed jealousy, ever ready to misrepresent the purest motives of the best people on the earth; and acts of loyalty and honesty and commendation are construed to be those of conspiracy and wickedness. And we know too that among this class of vilifiers and defamers are many of the clergy, some of whom have come among us as followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, to bring to us glad tidings: but being wolves in sheep’s clothing they do the work of their master, and, therefore, they scatter broadcast lies and defamation. And many newspaper scribblers, who are ever ready to pander to popular sentiment, whether it be right or wrong, who know not the facts in the case, take up and republish to the world those truths and misrepresentations of the wicked men who are seeking notoriety at the expense of truth and justice.

The history of Utah Territory gives the lie to all these misrepresentations. There is no part of the American continent that has been peopled and redeemed from its desolated condition with so little blood shed as Utah. There is no other State or Territory where the general government has expended so little force, or where so few lives have been lost in settling a country and maintaining peace with the Indians as Utah. Today the American nation is indebted for the spirit of “Mormonism” that has been diffused through this mountainous country in the maintenance of peace, and the saving to the nation of millions of treasure as well as thousands of lives.

And the wisdom of the Lord, through His servant Brigham Young, in sending colonies into Arizona, and on the several branches of the Colorado, also into the San Juan country, as well as on our eastward borders, may be witnessed today in the influence that is exerted by our people to check the spirit of war and bloodshed among the Navajos and the Utes and the Apaches. The wars that have troubled the country during the last four or five years in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, have been, to my certain knowledge, greatly mitigated by the presence of our colonies on their borders, and by the labors of our missionaries among the Indians. During those two years I have spent considerable time in visiting those colonies, and have, therefore, been brought in contact with many of the nations of the different tribes when they have been visiting colonies and missionary stations. And so has Elder Woodruff and some others of the Quorum of the Twelve. And I am a witness to this fact, that in every instance where the influence of our missionaries and our colonies has been exerted upon these fallen people, their chiefs have been imbued with the spirit of peace, and they in turn have exerted their influence on the side of peace to allay the uprising of their more bloodthirsty brothers. And when they have been almost on the point of joining distant warlike bands engaged in hostilities against the Government, and have come to us to know our views and to seek our counsel, our advice has always been in the interest of peace, in the spirit of kindness; we have always taught them to restrain their hostile feelings, and have portrayed to them the benefits of peace, forbearance and long-suffering, and advised them to endure what they considered wrong rather than to attempt to redress their wrongs in their feeble, helpless condition, by taking up arms against the strong and powerful government of the United States; and besides, that it was displeasing to God our heavenly Father, that they should shed the blood of man. Such is the character of the teachings and counsels of our leading men of the various settlements to the Indians, and of our missionaries who are sent among them.

And I have had the testimony, during the last two years, of many of our presiding Elders and Indian missionaries—and they are men, I know, whose word may be relied upon, and who are themselves, I know, the true friends of the Indians, and are laboring for their welfare—they assured me that had it not been for this influence, the young men of the Navajos would have been fighting with the Utes in Colorado during the last war, and that many more of the Apaches would have been on the war-path with the late Victorio in New Mexico.

And here let me say, the last outbreak of the Apaches last fall, was forced upon them by the foolish and ruthless procedure of some of the officers at Camp Apache, greatly to the disgust of every thinking man acquainted with the affairs of that country. It was no more nor less than an attempt to make a great national affair out of a little, harmless, religious enthusiasm that sprang up among that tribe. Once in a while the Indians become very much excited over some local prophet; and it was merely an event of this nature that led to the late Apache war; the interference of the troops to quell their religious enthusiasm. And I want to say that a general war all through these eastern mountains and Arizona was imminent last September and October, and have no doubt would have broken out, had it not been for the presence and influence of our colonies extended along their immediate borders, which are presided over by careful, wise men, and their intercourse and labors among the Indians; and for the conservative influence of those chiefs and leading Apaches that Brother Woodruff visited and preached the Gospel to two years ago, and whom I and some half-dozen of our brethren visited and labored with three years ago last summer, which had the tendency to restrain the uprising of their more hotheaded brethren and of quelling it. They did more than all the troops from California, New Mexico and Eastern Arizona in bringing about peace.

The influence of those friendly Indians, who had listened to the counsels of our missionaries and our leading men in that country, and to Brother Woodruff, who went through the mountains to hunt up the bands that had hidden, and who were procuring ammunition and otherwise preparing for war—I say, their influence was felt for good, as was fully attested by their success in bringing the hostiles in by hundreds in the vicinity of Cooley’s ranch and elsewhere, and in allaying the warlike spirit among the Indians generally around Camp Apache; and thus in a quiet way bringing about peace and preventing a general war.

I know these things are true. I was posted every day, being at the time on the Little Colorado, and in company with President Jesse N. Smith, who was in communication with our brethren on the borders of those hostile Indians, who had messengers going and coming every day to and from them bearing counsels of peace; and I know that the prayers of our people ascended to the Father in the interest of peace, that the counsels of peace might prevail among them; and I know too that our prayers, together with the good influences that had been exerted, did prevail on behalf of the Saints of that region of country. And I know and can testify that the influence of our interpreters and discreet Indian men and missionaries, whom we have located on the San Juan River, between the Navajos and the Ute reservations, who have been there during the last three years, as also those on the south of the Navajo reservation, and between the Navajos, and the Apaches on the various branches of the Little Colorado, I know that their influence and the effect of their teachings and counsels upon the Lamanites is in the interest of peace between the white race and the Indians of that country.

I feel it a pleasure to be able to speak knowingly of these things, and hope that this spirit of peace may extend throughout the land. Amen.

The Gospel—The “Perfect Law of Liberty,” Etc.

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at the General Conference, Monday Afternoon, April 4, 1881.

I desire to be heard, not that I am ambitious of speaking, but if I speak I desire that my strength shall not be unnecessarily taxed.

One of the ancient expounders of the Christian religion said, that the Gospel was the perfect law of liberty. I believe it; and if I take a text at all, that is my text.

The Gospel as understood and expounded by the Savior and his ancient Apostles, is a perfect law of liberty. Everything pertaining to the spirit of the Gospel, as taught and expounded and practiced by the Savior and His disciples, tended to liberty. All the revelations which God ever gave to man from the beginning of the world tended to liberty. The government which our heavenly Father has exercised, or attempted to exercise over His children on the earth or in the heavens, has not in the least tended to restrain or abridge them in their liberty, but rather to enlarge it, to extend it, to insure, to preserve and maintain it. The Gospel of Christ, and all of the revelations of God to man have sought to mark the line of distinction between liberty and license, between correct principles of government and anarchy or oppression and slavery. Oppression and slavery are the result of sin and wickedness, violations of the principles of the everlasting Gospel either by the rulers or ruled or both, and generally both. True freedom of mind and body and true liberty, even the enjoyment of human rights is founded and maintained, and rests upon human integrity and virtue and the observance of those principles of truth on which all true happiness and true freedom is founded. Sin was never righteousness, nor can be; license was never liberty nor can be; misery was never happiness, nor can be; and yet because of the blindness and ignorance of some people, they never appear to be happy only when they are perfectly miserable. And there are some people too who think they are always in slavery and bondage unless they are trying to get themselves into trouble; and they think there is no true liberty only in acting like the devil. The Nihilists of Russia, the Socialists of France and their sympathizers in America, including the “Liberals” of Utah, are panting for liberty; they are restive under the restraint of order and law; they are opposed to government, and like the French Socialists and Communists, they would destroy Jehovah himself and behead the king and burn up Parliament and assassinate every representative of power and government; and when they had reduced the country and themselves to anarchy, they would look upon their condition as the acme of freedom and human liberty. The world today is drifting in this direction, including our own liberal America.

If we take a retrospective view of the dealings of God with his people whom he recognized, and who acknowledged his laws, and among whom he raised up Prophets, and with whom he established his covenants, we will find that they have been the freest of all peoples which have existed on the earth. The students of the Bible and the Book of Mormon know this to be the case. They know that the first king who ruled over ancient Israel, was chosen at their own earnest solicitations, when they began to apostatize from God, and to despise His counsels. They know that Samuel the Seer, who judged them in righteousness, and who taught them faithfully the ways of the Lord, earnestly remonstrated with them when they clamored for a king to go out and in before them and lead them to battle, that they might be as other nations who were around them. Samuel foretold the results—that such a course tended to bondage; that they were but forging the links of the chain that would bind them and deprive them of freedom. He labored long and arduously to dissuade them from it; but they would not listen to him. And yet they were not willing to consent for anybody else to make them a king but that same Samuel; and when he had prayed to the Lord, the Lord told him to “hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” Samuel did as the Lord commanded him, and Israel was ruled over by a king of their own choosing. But the heavens were displeased with them for so doing, and you who are conversant with Bible history are familiar with the troubles and sorrows which befell Israel in consequence of this departure from the ways of God. And those who read the Book of Mormon find the same spirit breathed throughout that book. The people, in the days when they were willing to listen to the voice of Prophets and inspired men, were the freest and best of all people; but when they began to apostatize and harden their hearts against the words of the Lord and the counsel imparted to them by His servants, they began to drift with sin and oppression and bond age. Anarchy—shall I say, is the worst of all governments? No: Anarchy is the absence of all government; it is the antipodes of order; it is the acme of confusion; it is the result of unbridled license, the antipodes of true liberty. The Apostle Paul says truly: “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” At first this is a startling statement. Even the monopoly of the one-man-power as in Russia, or the monopoly of the aristocracy as in other parts of Europe, or the imbecility and sometimes stupidity of a republic like our own, is far better than no government at all. And for this reason, says the Apostle Paul, “The powers are ordained of God,” not that they are always the best forms of government for the people, or that they afford liberty and freedom to mankind, but that any and all forms of government are better than none at all, having a tendency as they do to restrain the passions of human nature and to curb them, and to establish and maintain order to a greater or less degree. One monopoly is better than many; and the oppression of a king is tolerable, but the oppression of a mob, where every man is a law to himself and his own right arm, is his power to enforce his own will, is the worst form of government. The efforts of extremists clamoring for human freedom are all tending in this direction; and those who clamor for human rights are, as a general thing, the first to trample them under foot—I mean those who are the most loud-mouthed; their ideas of freedom are all on their tongue; they conceive of no freedom only when they wield the sword, or dictate terms to others. The Gospel of the Son of God extends to the world that perfect law of liberty. Founded on truth, and a proper appreciation of those principles which tend to the largest possible happiness to humanity, it restrains mankind, not in the enjoyment of freedom and liberty, but from efforts to deprive their fellows of it. In other words, the power which God has sought to exercise, and which he has recommended and sanctioned, is only to seize the arm which is raised to fell his fellow, and to stop the loud tongue of the raging maniac, which would destroy the peace of his fellow man, and who would seek to build himself up on the ruin of others. There is no system of government ever instituted among men which is so well calculated to give and maintain human freedom, and at the same time to restrain the vices and excesses of fallen humanity, as the government of the Gospel sought to be established by the Savior and His Apostles. We heard quoted this forenoon the words of God spoken through the Prophet Joseph, and which are and always will be in force among this people, to the effect that the powers of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and cannot be exercised in any degree of unrighteousness; that the power of that man departs from him when he attempts in the least degree to exercise an unrighteous dominion over his fellow man—or any power or dominion except that power of truth and of persuasion founded upon it.

The teachings of the Savior in relation to the settling of difficulties arising among brethren in the Church of Christ, through visiting them and talking frankly one with another, explaining and expounding to each other until they come to an understanding of all troubles which may arise among members of the Church; and in cases of disagreement invoking the aid and council of visiting priests and teachers to act in the premises as peacemakers, as helps to the parties to arrive at a proper understanding, constitute the best method of settling and adjusting the differences of mankind which has ever been instituted; agreeing with the experience of Bishop Hunter, who has often said, that no cases of difficulty are so thoroughly and effectually settled as those which are disposed of in this way. This is the chief labor of the visiting Priesthood among the people of God. And yet the enemies of this people prate a great deal about the oppression of the Priesthood. There is no pope or bishop, priest or clergyman or ecclesiastic belonging to any sect on the earth, so far as my knowledge extends, which is so approachable as the President and Apostles and Priests and Bishops and Elders of this Church, whose hearts and ears are open to everybody to hear what everybody has to say, and to give it due weight in all patience and long-suffering, to enlighten and teach them correct principles, so that they may act honestly with each other and secure each other the greatest possible amount of liberty, freedom and happiness. The same may be said of the domestic relations in the family circle—I will not say with wicked men, with men who are naturally tyrannical, having the spirit of tyranny and oppression born in them; but I will say that free men and women who are imbued with the spirit of the everlasting Gospel, who are living in polygamy, that they manifest a greater degree of parental affection and of conjugal love, and evince greater earnest desire to promote peace and happiness and comfort and liberty and freedom to each member of their families, than at least the great majority of the families of the Christian world. And as I have often said—and I am as well acquainted with polygamous families in Utah, as perhaps, any other man, in consequence of my traveling constantly among the people and mingling with them—that, as a rule, the polygamous families of Utah are the best regulated families in the land, and they enjoy the greatest degree of happiness and freedom, unity, fellowship and love and reverence for correct principles. Our would-be regenerators would feign try and make us believe that unless we all go to the polls and vote their ticket we are slaves to the Priesthood; that because we chose to vote for our friends, we are doing the bidding of the Priesthood. Yes, and so we are. The Priesthood has always taught us that we would be fools, indeed, to vote for our enemies, for those who would rob and plunder us, for those who would not only rob us financially, but would steal from us the common rights of citizenship were it in their power to do so. And, yet, forsooth, because we vote for our friends, for men in whom we have confidence, they say we are priestridden, etc. And what does it all mean? “Why, we want you Mormons to vote for us that we may get our arm into the public treasury, for we are too lazy to work.” All who are acquainted with the administration of affairs in Utah, know that the affairs of government, both territorial and county, and also municipal, are the most economically administered of any other Territory or State in the Union; that there is not one delinquent or case of embezzlement to where there are ten in any other Territory or State. And yet our would-be regenerators are exceedingly angry because we will not vote for men to misrepresent us and our interests at the seat of government; because we do not squeak when they squeak, because we do not sneeze when they take snuff. This they call liberty! And there are perhaps some of our own people who are so far befogged that they run with this class of men; they read their twaddle so much and they become so much beclouded that they think it is necessary, in order to show their manhood, to vote for their enemies because, if they do not vote for their enemies they will be put down as “Mormon slaves;” and this would be too much for them, they could not stand so much.

Now, thinking men understand the object of all this cry. It is prompted by the same spirit which we see manifested by the extremists almost throughout the civilized world. It is true there is a great deal of oppression in the world, and these men see it and they wish to improve things, but do not know how; and instead of commencing to rectify what is wrong in their own hearts and in their own families, and then extend their influence for good to those immediately around them, instead of using moral suasion and showing a good example, they turn to and undertake to serve God like the devil, trying to right things the wrong way by casting down everything in the form of order and government, producing anarchy and ruin instead. Like the idiot who, because he himself was houseless, having to sleep on the doorstep of some rich man, put the torch to the rich man’s palace and destroyed it. Fools can demolish and destroy; it requires wise men to build.

I said of the ancient people of God; I say of the Latter-day Saints, there is no people capable of appreciating true liberty and of understanding the principles on which it is founded, and who know so well how to maintain them; because we have found it in the Gospel which we have received. And every man who has received the spirit of the Gospel, and whose heart is warmed with the love of it, is preparing his heart and is using his influence to educate the people to understand the true principles of human freedom, and the means by which they can be maintained. And I say, as President Cannon has said, referring to what the Prophet Joseph Smith told us, that the time would come when the extremists of the land, who are undermining the fabric of freedom, and little by little breaking under foot the guarantees of human liberty which have been raised up by our heavenly Father, through the instrumentality of wise men whom he raised up to establish the institutions of our country; these extremists of the land are gradually undermining those safeguards of human liberty, and plotting to carry out their nefarious designs in their endeavoring to oppress the people of God, and to destroy the institutions of heaven out of the earth. The time will come when the voice of such men will be heard in the land, like the roaring of a tornado, so that the still small voice speaking from the heavens cannot be heard; and the voice of the loudmouth, plotting destruction to human liberty and freedom will be heard all over the land, and everybody raise up and say, it is the voice of God; and they will be willing to stand and look on and see the Saints butchered and Prophets martyred, and our institutions wrested from us and wasted away. But when that time arrives, the Lord will come forth from his hiding place and “vex the nations;” he will raise his arm, and it shall not be turned back, and he will stay the hand raised against his people to destroy them and their institutions.

The Gospel has been the means of gathering us out from among the nations, and has made us a free and happy people, an able and united commonwealth; and the Lord is using us to establish its principles in these mountains, that throughout these valleys may be formed a nucleus around which honorable men and women may gather, men who will be capable of appreciating the blessings of liberty and of helping to extend them to others. And all presidents and senators and judges, and all men in official authority who shall lend themselves and their influence to trample upon the common rights of man, those rights which God has bestowed upon us and which are our common heritage, and who shall be found warring against God and his institutions, when the cap of their iniquity shall be full, the Lord Almighty will cause them to disappear from the public gaze, he will let them sink into oblivion and disgrace.

Those who suppose they can secure happiness in doing wickedly are grievously mistaken. And if they seek to oppress their neighbor by appropriating to themselves his hard earnings without rendering him a just equivalent, they will find every time they do it, they are but weaving together withes for their own backs, preparing punishment for themselves, and bringing themselves into bondage—the bondage of sin. For all judgments and punishments which the law of the Lord has ordained and appointed unto man are designed to correct their errors and sins. And where they are corrected and they learn better, then He is ready to stretch forth His hand to save and exalt them. The Gospel is ever ready to step in to assist repentant man when he has become sensible that he needs help to be redeemed, and he realizes that he has not the power to redeem himself. Then repentance unto life is granted to him; but it never can come until his judgment is convinced, until his mind is enlightened and his eyes are opened to see himself, and to comprehend his true position. And whether he be in this world or the world to come, he must place himself in a condition to be saved before redemption can come unto him; and it is only by the light of truth and of true and correct principles which can bring happiness and liberty and freedom, and with it a disposition to extend that liberty to all around, and to maintain it and protect each other in its enjoyment; and not with a spirit of vengeance upon the erring, and oppression upon the ignorant, but only with a disposition to seize and hold the hand which is raised to smite his fellow and stop in his wayward course the individual who would override his fellow. And all men should be protected in this freedom to go so far and no further.

May the Lord help us to live and walk in the light, and think for ourselves, and act like sensible people, paying heedless regard to the blatant foolish lunatics who are attracting the attention of the world. They, however, have their day, after the manner of the old adage—Every dog has his day; and when it is past he will cease to bark and bite.

His Late Travels Through the South, Etc.

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at Paris, Bear Lake, Saturday Afternoon, August 7th, 1880.

President Taylor referred in his remarks this morning to myself as coming from the far South, and as traveling extensively through the country; and I feel led in my feelings to make some remarks on the south country, and also the north, and perhaps on some other portions of the country through which I have traveled.

Two years ago this summer I visited the greater portion of the Territory of Arizona; that is, I, with others, passed through the northwestern portions of the Territory, along near the eastern boundaries, southward to the extreme southeastern portions of the Territory, returning through Tucson; crossed the desert to the Gila, then crossed Salt River and up through the Tonta Basin and over the Nookhoon to the Little Colorado, and obtained a very general understanding of the country and the condition and facilities of the Territory; and also the western portions of New Mexico. Last summer I also visited the south part of Colorado; I passed along the line of railroads from Ogden to Cheyenne, thence passing south through Colorado, on the east side of the mountains to Denver, and thence to Pueblo, on the Arkansas; thence southeast to the Rio Grande Del Norte, and down that stream to the New Mexico line. It is in contemplation that myself and a few other brethren will visit, during the coming fall, the southeastern counties of this Territory—those new counties, Emery and San Juan, which have been recently organized, and the lower valleys on Grand River, and from Grand River to the San Juan and its tributaries, and the settlements which our people are forming upon those streams, and probably we shall extend our travels further into New Mexico, and visit our new settlements on the head waters of the Little Colorado, and the tributaries of the Gila, along the borders of New Mexico and Arizona.

The chief object of our visits is to learn the facilities of the country, and to look after the flock of Christ, and also to hunt after any that might have strayed away, and when found to try to gather them to some fold, where we can place some shepherd over them who will endeavor to feed them with the bread of life, and keep them from being entirely lost, or torn by wolves. We shall visit the new settlements as fast as practicable, and the older ones also, to labor among the people according to our calling, to teach the people their duty, and to organize them as shall be necessary, and to set in order all things necessary for their development and growth, and to maintain the union and fellowship of the Saints, and respect for the Gospel and the order and government of His Church and Kingdom.

There seems to be a necessity for the Latter-day Saints to gather together, and then to scatter a little, and then to gather a little, and so on; in other words, something after the fashion of the bees: they go out of the hive empty and return with their legs and wings laden with honey and bee bread. Now, if all can do this, we shall continue to thrive in the hive of Deseret; but if, on the other hand, we scatter and waste and destroy the good we have, we had better remain in the hive until we shall have learned our duty better.

There is a tendency with some to want to get away from the restraint of the Priesthood and the earnest teachings and admonitions of the Gospel and the wholesome government that is maintained among the Saints, in order to enjoy greater liberties, not greater liberties to serve the Lord, for there is nobody in anywise restricted. Some are desirous of greater liberties than they think they enjoy among us in occupying the country and getting possession of the land and accumulating stock, and desire a greater range. Now, this feeling ought not to take possession of us too much, because if we indulge it too much we are liable to become darkened in our mind measurably, and lose the spirit of the Gospel. But when we are called and sent out to labor, either to preach the Gospel in foreign countries, or to gather the poor from distant lands, or sent to locate in any distant place with a view of helping to establish towns and villages and settlements, and building up and organizing and helping to maintain good order and wholesome government, and to extend the spirit of the Gospel—when we are called upon to assist in establishing these new settlements, it is right that we should respond; it is as legitimate labor as any other branch of labor in building the Church and Kingdom of God upon the earth. But we ought to guard against a restless spirit of changing locality merely for its own sake, and moving to and fro in search of something better. This restless feeling is not good, nor will it tend as a rule to happiness and permanent good and prosperity to those who possess it. We are not all alike. Some become attached to whatever place they call their home; wherever they labor and build up a home they gather around them the comforts of life, and feel settled in that place, and attached to their surroundings; while others seem hard to settle down and make any place seem like home for any length of time. To me this spirit has always appeared strange, so contrary to my nature and disposition. Notwithstanding, as has been remarked, I travel among the people as much as, or more than any of my brethren of the Apostles of late years—perhaps for the last twenty years—still my home has been in St. George. Having had the care of the churches in the southern part of the Territory, to a great extent, I have been obliged to travel a great deal; but this has been from a sense of duty, and not because I have felt tired of home and wanted to move about from place to place. And I may add, that in all my travels, the thought of seeking a new or better place for myself or family has never entered my heart, no matter how many good places I may find; it is for others and not myself; it is to search out places where we can plant colonies of Latter-day Saints, where the sons and daughters of the Saints who are growing up in the older settlements, and who desire soon to spread out where they can make homes and form new settlements, where we can plant nurseries of Latter-day Saints. But it is not, as I said, to seek locations for myself or for my own family, only such portions of them as ought to go out and begin to operate for themselves, and make themselves homes. I am not one of that shifting sort of men. The lot that was assigned to me in Salt Lake City at the time the pioneers entered Salt Lake Valley, I retained until I was sent to St. George, and then I transferred it back to Pres. Young from whom I received it. I have never felt to change since I located in St. George; and if I had been located upon a barren rock, I would have packed soil enough to make a beautiful home of it. And, by the way, I believe the home I have made has cost me as much labor as if I had hauled the earth on to it. I have had to manufacture a great deal of what is now there; and so I may say it has been so with the greater part of our town and “Dixie” County. Naturally to look at it, it was a very forbidding country when we first settled there. We were not allured to that region by the green fields, the fine extensive meadows such as you have here. The grass which we see upon the surrounding hills, inviting the flocks and herds to eat, and the flowing crystal streams of pure water which make music, sweet and enchanting to the ear, as they wend their way through your valleys to the lake beyond, is in marked contrast to the natural facilities of our southern home. Why, if I were to tell you half the truth, the most of you would never want to go south to live; but we are not in the habit of picturing the unpleasant features of the country, but rather of speaking the best we can about it, feeling that we have need to do it. And there are some who have had faith enough and stamina enough in them to speak well of the country, and nothing short of faith and Mormon grit could do it; while we were doing this we did not forget to ask the blessing of God upon the land, and I need hardly say that it has been through His blessing that we have been prospered and enabled to make beautiful homes out of the once forbidding, sterile wastes.

We were sent there to raise cotton when our nation was thrown into anarchy through a civil war, and when it had become a question with all Israel, “Shirts or no shirts?” It was shirts we were after; we went to make cotton farms, and it was anything else but an inviting cotton region. As I have said, no extensive fields made the eye glad, but everything looked as though the whole country had been thrown together in an irregular broken manner. The water had to be raised from the low channels in which it flowed, in quicksand bottoms by means of long and expensive canals, in order to get it upon the bench lands. But now through the blessing of the Lord, and hard knocks, we have a very fine city, inhabited by a pretty good people. I will say, however, that the country is not so very much changed from what it was when we went there, excepting in a few places where the people have made inviting homes; but the homes which have been made are the more precious because of the labor it has cost to make them; and they are prized more highly on that account than they otherwise would be. You may ask me, if I am beating up for volunteers for that country? No, not at all; and yet the southern people would welcome most heartily any of the brethren and sisters from Bear Lake or any other section of the country who may feel desirous of locating among us, to share with us the rocks and sands and the cactus and lizards. I say, we shall welcome them most heartily; and then while they would have to take their share, and maybe more, of this natural product of our southern climate, they would also share with those who labor for their kindred and friends and their own exaltation, in the Temple which our Father has graciously and in His indescribable providence located among us, and permitted us to build, with the help of the Saints generally throughout the Territory. We feel that there is a wise providence overruling this. It is in such a country that the wicked have no desire for what they see around. They have passed through it, and as a general thing are satisfied not to come back again, there being nothing to induce them to do so. And this being the case St. George is a peaceful home of the Saints, and as a rule a very good spirit prevails there. Sometimes a little too much of the spirit of wine because the grape is a staple article among us, and foolish persons some times indulge too freely in the wine which is manufactured from that fruit. And it is one of the labors that we have upon us, to teach the people how to use the things which God gives us in a proper way and not abuse them, to control their appetites, and not allow wine to bring evil into the community. And we feel in this labor that we have succeeded to a goodly degree, there being much less of this kind of indulgence practiced among the people now than there has been since we settled and improved the country.

Now, touching the climate and soil and general facilities of the country through which I have traveled in Arizona, and along the borders of New Mexico, when compared with this region of country, it is a desert; that is, the facilities for agricultural purposes are far less than in Utah, and you know pretty well what they are in Utah. It is more of a grazing region. There is a lack of mountain streams, for the hills are generally low; they do not tower up in the clouds, and are not capped with snow as they are in this northern country. The main range of the Rocky Mountains falls off about the time you reach the New Mexican line, and the hills then become lower, and the streams are not so numerous. The facilities most attractive to my mind are along the continental divide, in the eastern portion of Arizona and the western portion of New Mexico. The northeastern portion of Arizona is watered by the Little Colorado and its tributaries, and the farming region is on the head waters of this stream, but it is not extensive; there are, however, facilities for small settlements, and extensive ranges for sheep and cattle. The garden of Arizona, so far as agricultural facilities are concerned, is on Salt River, after it emerges from the mountains and where our people are locating, at Mesa City and Jonesville. The country along Salt River is being occupied by people from various parts of the world, who are not of us. These two settlements of our people are doing very well, so I understand and there are facilities for many more in the same region. The climate is warm; the summer is long, scarcely any winter at all, and scarcely any frosts. But in that immediate vicinity there is not range for stock; that is, there is not very extensive growth of grass. The range is mostly in the hills, in the northeastern and southeastern parts of the Territory, on the headwaters of the Gila and its tributaries, the San Pedro and Black and White rivers; and also are many facilities for small agricultural settlements. The climate generally is milder than this, and consequently more pleasant. The eastern and northern portions are temperate, neither very hot nor very cold. In the southern portion, as I have said, the summer is long and warm; it is decidedly a hot and a dry country.

The country I visited last summer, further to the east and northeast, the upper valleys, or valleys on the Rio Grand del Norte, which are in Southern Colorado, and run into New Mexico, is a fine agricultural and grazing country. Fine mountain streams come out of the foothills to the broad valleys and open plains. This region affords facilities for flourishing settlements, as well as for flocks and herds; and the climate is as cool as that of Bear Lake and the other elevated valleys of Utah, and if not so severe winters as in Cache and Bear Lake valleys, at least something approaching them. There are facilities for many fine, flourishing settlements in that region of country; and we are establishing some colonies in that, consisting mostly of emigrants from the Southern States, with a few from Utah, to counsel and instruct them in the art of irrigating the soil and establishing settlements after the order of Zion. We find ourselves under the necessity of sending a few more to that region, and a few others to different localities, to assist in establishing and maintaining our new settlements.

But now, I return to this lovely valley of Bear Lake—lovely indeed it has seemed to me whenever I have visited it; but it must be remembered that I have never visited it only when it was covered with green. Still, I understand that the country is covered for many months in the year with the white mantle, and for this reason many of you complain of the long winters. But if it were not for the hard, cold winters and the melted snows, you would not have these beautiful meadows and green hills; you certainly have to thank the snows for this blessing. But I have no doubt you will say, that you could do with a little less snow and a little shorter winters and take a little less grain and meadow. Well, I think I would do so too. If I had the choosing of climates, I should not choose that in which I should have to cut hay three months in the summer, and be six or eight months feeding it out in the winter. I think with you I could get along with a little less snow, if I had to sacrifice a little of the rich meadow, and at the same time, correspondingly less mosquitoes and flies. And talking about flies, you cannot begin to show flies like we can in St. George; and they are not this common horse fly, they are the pesky house fly that is ever ready to contend with you for your meal.

Now, if I lived in Bear Lake valley, I believe I should look upon it as a very choice place to make my home; and if once I settled down, I should not think of moving away, or speaking of it as a very bad country to live in. I have made it a rule never to forsake old friends in order to take up with new ones; or to lay aside an old wife for the sake of getting a new one. The same rule would apply to my living in this northern country; once I settled down I should not think of moving away unless duty called me, and in that case of course I should drop everything and go without a whimper. I see on this stand an old friend in Brother John Nebeker, who moved down to our “Dixie” country, and after living there some time, returned to Bear Lake. I do not know how he feels about it, whether or not he is ready to make his home with us again in St. George. [Bro. Nebeker: Not yet, Bro. Snow. Laughter.] I would say to you who are doing well, let well enough alone, go on and stick to what you have got. I think I can see a chance to make some beautiful places where you have not more than half done it. It is now some fourteen years since I was here; some of you will remember it was when President Young came here, accompanied by General Chetlain and others. I took in the situation at that time; I mapped it out in my mind, and I have retained a pretty good understanding of the region of country. It may not become me to suggest to you who have had fifteen or twenty years’ experience here, but it strikes me that your faith has not been fully developed; I am inclined to think that you can do something besides raising calves, hay, wheat, oats and potatoes, and making butter and cheese—and here let me not forget to give you the credit of filling up the country with young men and women, which is a noticeable feature of the growth and wealth of the people. You have a big country here; so much, in fact, that you hardly know what to do with it. You try to enrich it all, and you skim it over, but you may depend that you have facilities here for a much heavier population than you have got; and upon the whole it is a healthy region. There may be some diseases peculiar to this cold region, and some feel, and that truly, that a warmer climate might tend to lengthen out their days, as well as add to their bodily comfort. I believe there is no objection on the part of anybody that such persons should try a warmer climate as may feel inclined to do it. There is no disposition to chain or fasten anybody to this country who may feel that they crave, and their health and comfort require a warmer climate. If there be such, I can assure them I have traveled through many other regions where there are facilities for making nice, comfortable, happy homes, and where the climate is milder; in fact, a person may suit himself with almost any climate he may choose between here and the Mexican line—in Southern Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. But as I remarked in the beginning, we ought to study contentment, and not indulge in a restless spirit, for change for its own sake, without having a good and sufficient reason, or without having some duty assigned to us where we may labor with better advantage to accomplish greater good in the building up of Zion, or in extending our borders and establishing and maintaining righteousness in the earth; and wherever our lot is cast, whether it be in Cache Valley, or Bear Lake Valley, whether in a warm or a cold climate, or whether in a hot climate, we should as much as possible try to content ourselves and adapt ourselves to the surrounding circumstances, always doing the most good we can.

Respecting the relative conveniences of St. George, for instance, and the surroundings of that country, as compared with this northern country, I have this to say, and I speak sincerely as I view it, and verily believe it, that in our efforts to subdue the country, and having to contend with difficulties and hardships, in order to plant our settlements there, making our roads and getting building material, and controlling the waters and the quicksands, and in having to meet and overcome obstacles which are peculiar to that country, we have worn out a great many good people, a great many good men have succumbed under the hardships we have had to endure; and I was counting up the number of families in the little city of St. George, whose husband and father had passed away under these circumstances, and I found that there were no less than between thirty and forty widows there, besides quite a number who have left and returned North, having buried their husbands down there. This is not the result of any contagion, or violent sickness, or any special disease, for we have had none; we have no prevailing disease, and it is not naturally an unhealthy country by any means. There is here and there a locality where they, having neglected common sanitary rules, have perhaps suffered from chills and fever, or ague. Diseases of this kind, which are incident to hot climates, have been experienced where they have allowed water to stand in pools. In St. George, however we have not been troubled with it. Washington and Santa Clara have, but it has arisen from defective sanitary measures. Naturally, I think our Southern country is quite as healthy as the general average of places in Utah. And when I speak of the number of men who have worn themselves out in helping to subdue the barrenness of the land, I might have said they have been mostly hale, hearty men, who went there in their prime, that wore themselves out with constant work in making homes for themselves and families. They have fallen a prey to exposure and labor both summer and winter, and to poor fare. But after saying this, I am happy to say also, that I think we have passed the crisis in this respect. We have learned wisdom by the things we have suffered: the comforts of life are being increased around us, and we are making up our minds now not to kill ourselves trying to live as fast as we have done in times past.

Now, I have said on different occasions, which it is as well for the youth of our large towns, our railroad towns and cities, where emigrants are dropped by the shipload, and where there is a redundancy of labor and surplus workmen, who are seeking for something to do and cannot find it, and are idling away their time and are waiting for something to turn up, and waiting for some easy chair, some clerkship, some place to make a living without working much—and I may say this class of people are abounding among us, and they receive an unfavorable education, and are contracting habits which are not good; I have said, and do say, that it is better for such to enter into swarms and form material for new colonies, to help to establish new places, and make new roads to the timber, get out farms, build mills, and subdue the elements, as their fathers did when they first settled this country. But in saying this to the surplus population of our older towns and railroad centers, we do not wish to apply it to these regions, where you have an abundance of room, needing, in fact, a much heavier population. I am persuaded that the people of this valley will be healthier, happier, and will enjoy more facilities and comforts when their population is treble to what it is today. Three times the population you now have can handle the facilities which you do much easier than the present population can handle them, and to better advantage and to better profit to all. And you will have better roads, and better farms, and better houses, and better mills, and better schools, your cities will be much better built up and improved, and your property more valuable, and everything will conduce to your comfort and growth, than under existing circumstances.

I was favorably struck with Garden City as I passed through it; I was favorably impressed with St. Charles as I passed through it. These are beautiful locations. I was particularly pleased with one thing I saw in Garden City, which was the long canal from Swan Creek. In this cold climate, where the seasons are short, it is important in irrigating, that the water should run slow and as long as possible before it is put on to the land, in order that it might get warmed, because it has a much more salutary effect on young crops than where it is cold and chilly direct from the canyon; and I am persuaded that a good deal of your small grain is injured in this way. Brother Thatcher took it upon himself to speak a little upon this practical question, and you will pardon me for doing the same. Though you farmers may think you know more than I do about it, you will all agree with me in this, that any suggestion I may make will not harm you, as you can do as you please about adopting it. But I know the difference between the effect of cold and warm water in agriculture in making things to grow; when you wish to rush the growth of your plants or crops in warm weather, the one is far preferable to the other. And if you wish to raise fruits and plants which are delicate and tender, of course you can get on to your warm, gravelly soil, and there put on your manure; and if you can use warm water, and have the benefit of the canyon breezes to prevent frost, you can raise a great deal of fruit. You now raise a great deal of small fruit, such as strawberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries; and what is there to hinder you raising plums and many varieties of choice apples, such as we cannot grow in St. George? That country is really too hot for growing apples. I raise apples, but they are not as good as the same variety raised in Salt Lake City. I am persuaded that this Northern region could beat us on apples, but we could beat you on pears and peaches, apricots and some other fruits. I should advise you to keep trying, and if your trees kill down once in a while, keep replacing them, and make the land as warm as possible, and put on the water warm, but not when the plants can stand it without; and then, do not leave it on late in the fall, thus keeping the plant growing late in the season, for when this is done the first severe frost that comes generally takes them off. I will leave this subject to Brother John Nebeker, who is abundantly able to continue it, and who, by doing so, might greatly benefit the people of this Northern country.

I would like to offer a little advice to your board of trade. You have one I suppose? (A voice: Yes, sir) Of course, in giving you my reflections in this as in other matters you are at liberty to please yourself about accepting it. You are here in a comparatively solid position, you can have things about your own way, that is, if you choose to be united. You are not mixed up as they are in Salt Lake City and in Ogden, you can control the trade of this whole region of country, not only in marketing your own produce but in the buying of your merchandise, wagons, carriages, machinery, and everything you have to import which you could get from first hands and at first cost and thereby save to yourselves the profits now made by middlemen. And in marketing your produce you can do likewise, but then you would have to control the business among yourselves, and give it your hearty support, and be resolved that you will operate together. Now, you are enriching men every year by your trade, and you are doing it by being divided, every man being for himself undertaking to market his own produce and to buy his own plows, rakes, mowers and reapers, and hauling his own produce to market and then doing the largest part of his trading with stores in which he is not interested, and his own cooperative store doing but a small languishing business. The great bulk of the business of this Territory is handled by outsiders at a distance from your settlements both as to importations and as to marketing your produce. You haul to market your butter and eggs, and the merchants dictate to you the price which they will pay, and you cannot help yourselves. In this way they grow rich on the profits, while you remain poor comparatively speaking, that is, you do not enjoy the benefits of your own labor and produce to the extent you might, if you were properly united. Your board of trade and cooperative stores throughout the county ought to work together and enter upon a system to handle your own produce in bulk; and then in buying wagons and agricultural machinery, etc.; instead of every man buying a single wagon or farming implement, this organization would deal direct with the manufacturers by the carload, at manufacturers’ prices, having them shipped to Evanston, the nearest point, instead of Salt Lake. I think the same also in relation to your stock. I understand you were making some efforts in this direction—the handling of your stock and marketing it. Every step you take in this direction will tend to consolidate the interests of the people and increase your common comforts, and will at the same time have the tendency to keep at arms length Jews and Gentiles, who may be hunting chances to pick up what little money you have to spare, or to make what money they can out of you. The more you concentrate your business relations and the greater degree of confidence you beget one for another, thereby having and increasing a desire to build each other up, the less you will be troubled with sharpers who thrust themselves into your towns and neighborhoods wherever there is evidence of the existence of money. I feel that this is our duty as a people, to adopt this cooperative manner of doing our business, in order to protect ourselves against the spirit of greed, and our children to a great degree from the contaminating influences that Gentiles, as a general thing, carry with them wherever they have located among our people. We have been taught for years to sustain Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution: and our local merchants should buy of them. But in all probability, if you were combined in this valley in your business relations, instead of every little store in every settlement in this valley being obliged to send to Salt Lake or Ogden for supplies of merchandise, it would be a matter of necessity to have a center here such as they have in Ogden and Logan, only on a smaller scale, in which you might do your wholesale business direct, and so arrange it that the parent co-op will ship to you most of the articles you need direct, which you need only go to the city to “sort up,” instead of going for all of your supplies. I think this would naturally come to be the result of a thorough union and combination of labor and interests in this valley; and I think too, that your isolated position eminently fits you for building up such home trade.

I am pleased to learn of the goodly degree of fellowship which prevails in your settlements, and that there are but little apostasy and opposing influences to contend with. You have been highly favored of the Lord in that which you have enjoyed, from the early settlement of this valley, the presence and counsels and labors of President Charles C. Rich, whom I regard as one of the wisest and most prudent counselors in Israel, a father indeed in the midst of his people; and the blessing of God has attended his ministrations among you, as is evidenced in the condition of the people generally.

My heart feels to bless the people, and to invoke the blessing of the Lord upon the land and upon the elements, that they may be made to conduce to your happiness and comfort; and that while you reap the fruits of the Father’s mercy and goodness, your hearts may be ever found to acknowledge Him as our benefactor and friend, and to appreciate His blessings. I trust that President Taylor and the brethren who are with you may be able to impart such words of counsel and consolation as your circumstances require; and that soon you will have in your midst again President Budge—that is, if we succeed in getting our mind upon the right man to take his place. He has been doing an excellent work in Europe, and we do not want to release him until we can replace him with a suitable man.

Your local Priesthood in your several wards and settlements, I doubt not, are earnestly seeking to learn their duty and to qualify themselves to magnify their callings; and if the people give them their faith and prayers and confidence and support, you will steadily advance in good works, in faith and wisdom; and I trust you will improve also in your educational interests. I suspect what is common in our new settlements, that you may seem behind in this respect, or at least you are not as far advanced in the condition of your schools as is desirable; and for the reason that there are more or less of the people who are so much absorbed in the cares of life, in making themselves homes, in order to be able to withstand the rigors of the climate, that they cannot bestow the attention and care to the training of their children which they ought to. I suppose they are willing to build schoolhouses, however, because they serve a triple purpose; first, for dancing; second, for school purposes; and third, for religious worship. Perhaps I ought to reverse it, but you can if you choose. People are willing to help to build schoolhouses for triple purposes. And when they have done this, they think that the Trustees should find teachers for them to teach their children who are not large enough to work; and these are often sent to school to be kept out of the way.

Now brethren and sisters, I do not mean, in making these remarks, to charge any of you harshly; and it may be I do not give you the credit which you are entitled to. I only speak what I find to be quite common in our new settlements throughout the country where I travel, and I feel the necessity of appealing to the good sense of the fathers and mothers; and to say to the Bishops and the Elders and Trustees particularly—and here let me say, that our Trustees should be chosen from our most energetic men—men who will fill the office, who will give it their most earnest consideration, who will seek to make everything comfortable around the schoolroom, men who will take an interest in the welfare of the children, and who will look to the wants and encouragement of the teachers, and who will also see that good and suitable books are provided, especially the Bible and Book of Mormon. Now, do not be afraid to see the good books which God has given unto us in the hands of your school children; do not be afraid of the teacher who will open school by prayer, and who will encourage faith in God, and morality, and everything that makes people good citizens. And I beseech the people generally to encourage the combined efforts of the County Superintendent and the Trustees and schoolteachers in establishing good schools in your midst; and that you will also sustain all the other good institutions, such as the Relief Society, the Mutual Improvement Associations, and your Sabbath Schools, and also those who act as Superintendents and Teachers in the Sabbath School. And do not, my brethren and sisters, consider it a little calling to act as a Sunday School Teacher; for when faithfully acting in this capacity you are sowing seeds in the minds of the youth which must sooner or later produce the natural fruit; and thus prepare men and women to carry on the work which their fathers have begun, and in which some of them have worn themselves out.

That God may bless the people of these valleys, and that their children may grow up to perpetuate their names with honor to themselves and glory to God, is my earnest prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Cleave to Light—Coming of Christ—Abominations of the Wicked—Welfare of the Young

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered at the General Conference, held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Oct. 8th, 1879.

The prophet Isaiah, in speaking of the latter-day Zion, made this singular remark:

“Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.

“But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel:” etc.,

Again, it has been said concerning the disobedient who reject and set at nought the counsels of the Almighty, through his servants who are sent unto them:

“I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;”

The wicked comprehend not the things of God; they cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned. “The things of God,” says the Apostle Paul, “knoweth no man only by the Spirit of God;” or, in other words, carnal man knows not the things of God, neither can he understand them. The unbelieving world cannot see as the Saints see; they walk in darkness, but the Saints are the children of light, even as many as keep sacred their covenants with God. The wicked love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. This was true of the first century of the Christian era, when the Savior uttered it; it is true today. As the light shone in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not, so might the same be said today. We are called to be the children of light. Blessed are they who continue in the light, for the day of the Lord will not overtake them as a thief in the night; but woe unto them that depart from, or reject that light that shines in the midst of the darkness, for the day cometh and that speedily, when they will be overtaken as by a whirlwind. The command of the Lord to the Saints is to watch, for we know not the day nor the hour when the Son of man shall come. The precise time of his coming has not been revealed; the prophets were ignorant of it; it could not be declared to the apostles of the Lamb, and, indeed, the Savior said that not the angels, nor even he himself, knew the day or the hour of this important event. And on taking his final leave of the Twelve, on the Mount of Olives, the question was put to him—“Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They, it seems, were wont to regard the Savior as that Being that was to establish himself upon the throne of David, and bring to pass all that they had been so anxiously expecting; but he told them it was not for them to know the times and the seasons which the Father had put in his power. These things have been spoken that the Saints should watch and not fall asleep. The same idea is also set forth in the parable of the ten virgins, who were represented as having gone forth to meet the bridegroom, five of whom were wise and five foolish. The wise virgins took oil in their vessels, and were pre pared to meet the bridegroom and to go with him into the marriage feast; the foolish virgins took no oil, they were unprepared, and were consequently shut out. This parable is expressly applicable to the time of the second coming of the Savior, showing us that however reluctant we may feel to admit it, we are plainly given to understand that a great portion of those who are counted virgins, of the Lord’s people, who believe in his coming and who go forth to meet him, will slumber and sleep, and be locked out when he shall come. And it behooves all Saints to ask themselves the question which the disciples asked the Savior when he told them the startling truth that one of them should betray him—“Lord, is it I?” And all those who are very anxious upon this point will be likely to be on the watchtower, and not slumbering in that fatal hour.

And again, in the 24th of Matthew, he speaks of that wicked servant who shall begin to say, “My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” He expects this of his servants whom he has appointed over his house, to give his children meat in due season. It becomes the apostles, and presidents, and bishops, and all who are called as watchmen upon the walls of Zion to read the 24th and 25th of Matthew, giving due attention thereto, and to beware, least they be found among those unfaithful servants who have been appointed to minister in his house and give meat in due season, but who smite their fellowservants, and who eat and drink with the drunkard, and otherwise neglect their high and holy calling, for responsibility, position and station will not be any protection or safeguard in that day. But, on the contrary the greater the responsibility neglected, the greater their fall, chagrin and disappointment, and woe when they find their allotted portion among the hypocrites and unbelievers.

And the enemies of Zion who want to penetrate our sacred and holy places, and who say in their hearts, Let her temples be defiled; let adventurers, profligates and libertines mingle in their family circles, and break them asunder, and defile the daughters of Zion and break up the holy institution of sacred and holy matrimony, by which they are bound together in the new and everlasting covenant for time and eternity; yes, they say, let this covenant be broken, let all who believe and will not deny the laws and commands of God, be excluded from the jury-box, from the ballot box and from official station. And here comes another wail from a member of the Cabinet, in the form of a decision to the effect that all plural wives, who will not break their covenants with their God and their husband, shall be excluded from the right of homestead and pre-emption; and I doubt not but what everything will be done that Satan can put into their hearts to do to block the wheel, to hedge up the way, in order to test the faith of the righteous and their integrity to each other and the principles of truth. But it must be remembered that God permits it, that they may fill up the cup of their iniquity, that the righteous may be proven and tested, even to the core. For God will have a tried people, and those only who will abide in his covenant, even to the death if necessary, will be found worthy of that glory and exaltation in his kingdom which we seek after. It is a day of warning, not of many words; it is also a day of sacrifice. God has a controversy with the nations, but first with those unto whom the fullness of the Gospel has been sent. He will work in his own wondrous way his purposes to perform. It becomes us to be very humble, that we may be worthy to be his instruments in accomplishing his designs.

I rejoice in the testimony of the Spirit manifested by the previous speakers during this Conference. My earnest desire is that the Spirit may spread abroad among all people and take deep root in their hearts, not only throughout the Stakes of Zion, but throughout the earth. Dark clouds may gather around us from time to time; then is the time not to fear, but to watch and pray and patiently await the Lord of Hosts to dispel them and cause the sun to shine again upon us; remembering the vision of Nephi, in which he saw the rod of iron which led to the tree of life, along the turbulent stream of muddy water, and through mists and clouds which at intervals beset his pathway; and that those who clung to it were led safely through and reached the tree and partook of the fruit thereof, while those who ceased their hold to the rod of iron wandered off and were lost.

I have felt the greatest concern for the rising generation among us; they are far more numerous than our foreign immigrants. Secretary Evarts and the Cabinet need have far less fear concerning our foreign immigrants than of those that are constantly coming from the spirit world. The enemies of Zion fear this doctrine of the Saints, that “Children are an heritage of the Lord, * * * and happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.” This doctrine permits the Latter-day Saints to fulfil the first great command given to Father Adam and Mother Eve, instead of adopting that abominable and soul-destroying doctrine of devils, infanticide and feticide, which is practiced to no little extent in the Christian world, which is in open violation to the laws of nature and the law of God to our first parents, to “multiply and replenish the earth.” And the practice of this same doctrine is fast depopulating some of our older States; besides, it tends to encourage prostitution; and, strange as it may appear, a future day will yet reveal that among the foremost and prominent votaries of this doctrine of devils are those who fight against Zion and her institution of marriage, under the hypocritical cant as such men as Schuyler Colfax, in his utterance from the balcony of the Townsend House in this city, and Attorney-General Devens, in his argument in the Reynolds case, in effect, that the plural marriage of the Mormons cannot be tolerated, because the burning of widows upon the funeral pile of their husbands was wrong. There is about as much relevancy and consistency in the argument as there would be to say that the practices of the multitudes of families of this Christian land, who are destroying their own offspring and taking villainous compounds to induce barrenness and unfruitfulness, must be tolerated and encouraged, because the practices of the Latter-day Saints are filling these mountains with a thrifty population. It is shown by the statistics that our children under the age of eight years are already nearly as numerous as the lay members of the Church. I feel that too much attention cannot be bestowed upon the rising generation. Our young people’s Improvement Associations, our Sabbath Schools and quorum meetings are all so many aids in the training and education of the young in all that is elevating and praiseworthy. And may God bless them in their earnest efforts to improve the spirits of their fellow men.

There is one thing I wish to call the attention of our presiding officers to, more especially, that of the Presidents of Stakes and their counselors and the Bishops as their aids and assistants, and that is to give more diligent heed to the temporal condition of the families of the Saints over whom they preside, seeing to it that they are suitably and profitably employed. It is an old adage that an idle brain is the devil’s workshop; and we all know that the lack of useful and proper employment is the source of numerous evils. It should be our study to introduce new branches of business, devise means of employment, that none may be idle. This is an important duty required of the leading men in Israel; and so earnest should they be in its performance that they make it a matter of faith and prayer, using their utmost endeavors to seek it out by thoughtful study, and by consulting each other, and by inviting the aid of inventive minds. It is important that our schoolteachers should not merely be automatons or parrots in the schoolroom by way of impressing a lesson upon the minds of the children, but strive, in an eminent degree, to direct their minds in a moral and religious sense, inculcating, by precept and example, due respect for virtue, and everything that is pure and noble; having also, as much as practicable a watchcare over them out of school as in school, laboring to enforce punctuality and an honest report, thereby helping their parents to look after them, so that they may not squander away their time foolishly, as many do in our towns and cities, lounging around stores and other places, acquiring habits that are calculated to lead away and defile the minds of the youth. The schoolteacher who is alive to the true spirit of his calling becomes a valuable auxiliary in improving the minds and conduct of our children, and his or her influence, when properly excited, might be of incalculable good.

There has been in times past, and still is, a great tendency among our youth to seek easy berths; and sometimes the acme of their ambition seems to be realized upon a high stool in a counting room, or behind a counter; they desire to shun the hardships through which their parents passed. That is a vain delusion, and it is simply foolishness on the part of parent or child who indulges in it. It is unwise for parents to entertain this spirit, to be anxious to shield their children from the trials of life through which they themselves have passed; no really sensible man or woman would do it. There is no sensible man or woman in the land that would exchange their experience for all the wealth of the world. If any would do it, they have failed to learn their lesson and profit from their experience. Adversity is good for all; prosperity few can fear.

The Presidents of Stakes, with their Counselors, and the Bishops as their assistants, should, when they know of any unoccupied land within their borders that ought to be improved and possessed by the Latter-day Saints get together and select young and middle-aged men who are not already provided with good, suitable homes or means of sustenance, organize them with good and efficient leaders, and send them out to occupy those new valleys, teaching them to do as their fathers have done—teach them to take out the mountain streams, build gristmills, sawmills and factories, raise breadstuff, sheep and cattle, and prepare to live, instead of craving easy berths, and be all the days of their lives dependent upon the will of an employer for a livelihood.

There are many places in our Territory east of us, on both sides of Green River, also in Sanpete, Piute and Kane counties, and in the adjoining States and Territories, that ought to be occupied; for the Latter-day Saints cannot be confined to Utah. Everything indicates the fulfillment of the declaration of the ancient prophet, who said:

“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

“For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left;” etc.

In the very nature of things this must be the case; for we are an aggressive people, not to trample on the rights of our fellow man, but to fulfil the purposes of the Almighty, and possess and make fruitful the waste places. And as the wicked are wasted away through disease, war and bloodshed, murder, infanticide, feticide and the judgments of an offended God, he requires his people to go forth as he shall prepare the way, and possess the land and hold it for God and his kingdom, whose it is, and who will come in due time to reign over it.

Fear not to take to yourselves wives and to multiply and replenish the earth, and occupy the unoccupied regions, and leave it not to your enemies while you are clustering around these mercantile houses and saloons and places of ease and idleness; but break out and face the realities of life. And let no father or mother in their old age indulge childish fancies, and encourage these whinings of their children; but be as courageous as the old hen, who, after scratching for her brood until they are able to scratch for themselves, sends them forth to get their own living.

We do not wish to be compelled to call men to this work of settling up the country; the Twelve and the General Conference have other things to occupy their time and attention, while this work more directly belongs to the Presidents of Stakes. The Twelve, however, are ready to counsel with these brethren and render them all the aid we can. But we don’t want the Presidents of Stakes to think that they can do nothing, leaving the Twelve to attend to all such things; that is part of their calling, as fathers in Israel. We wish the country bordering on that occupied by the Lamanites settled by men who know how to behave themselves, and who will befriend that people, and not shoot them down as we would the wild beasts, without cause or provocation, nor give them occasion to be our enemies, to lay in wait to rob and kill; but to cultivate their love and good will which is a common duty of all Saints to all people, but especially to the House of Israel; and set good examples and manifest in all their dealings honesty and integrity, thereby sowing good seed in their hearts, that shall in the due time of the Lord bring forth precious fruit.

We want many earnest, upright young men also to learn the languages of the natives of the American Continent, and also the Spanish language, which is extensively used in Central and South America as well as Mexico, and which is the national language of those countries and of the educated natives who exercise dominion over the ignorant Indians and the mixed races of the Continent. We expect to call many to labor among these people, as the Lord may dictate, and we want them to be prepared to respond when there is a whisper in their ears to that effect.

May God bless you, and help us all to be truly what we are called to be, Saints of the last days, to stand before the Son of Man when he shall appear, is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Parable of the Fig Tree—The Rise of the Latter-Day Work—Organization of the Church—Its Subsequent Progress and Development—The Manner of Calling God’s Servants—Duties of Church Officers—The Saving Power of Truth—The Disobedient and Idle Condemned—Liberality of the Gospel Plan

Discourse by Apostle Erastus Snow, delivered at the General Conference, on Sunday Morning, April 6, 1879.

In the 24th chapter of Matthew our Savior uses a figure in speaking to his disciples, illustrating the signs of the times in which we live.

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh; So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”

The rendering of this 24th chapter of Matthew is somewhat imperfect in King James’ translation; the events connected with the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jews seem to be intermingled with the events that were to precede and accompany the second advent of the Savior. In the new translation of this chapter by the Prophet Joseph Smith, which may be found in the Pearl of Great Price, the difference is made very plain, and the figure of the fig tree and the second coming of the Son of Man and the generation referred to therein is made applicable, not to the period of the destruction of Jerusalem, but to the time of the second coming of the Son of Man. And the new translation reads, in speaking of the putting forth of the fig tree and the signs that should precede the coming of the Son of Man, “Verily, I say unto you, this generation, in which these things shall be shown forth, shall not pass away until all I have told you shall be fulfilled.” From the reading of the new and correct rendering, it will be seen that, instead of the things spoken of being fulfilled in the generation in which the prophecy was made—which is the inference—the application is transferred at once from the generation in which the Savior was speaking to the generation who should witness the signs of the times therein set forth.

It is now more than 51 years since the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were committed by the angel Moroni, to the hands of Joseph Smith, who was raised up to be a prophet, seer and revelator to the nineteenth century, and to lay the foundation of this church and kingdom upon the earth. And since that sacred record, which contains the fulness of the everlasting Gospel, was first revealed to him in the Hill Cumorah, nearly 56 years have passed away; it is 49 years since the organization of the Church was effected in conformity with the laws of God, and in accordance with the laws of New York; that is to say, the rule established by the laws of New York governing the organization of religious bodies and to comply with the statutes and to give it tangible form. The 6th day of April was selected by revelation as the day on which this church should be organized. The question is asked by some, were there only six believers who had received the testimony of the Prophet and been baptized for the remission of their sins on that day? I answer, there were many more. Why, then, was the number six made to figure in the organization? I answer in this respect: the same as under the statutes of Utah cooperative associations must have at least six to unite in the formation of any such association before it can incorporate. But any number not less than six might unite and organize themselves into a religious association to enjoy the rights and privileges of the law as such religious bodies. This number was selected, however, from among the believers on this occasion to conform to the requisitions of the statutes. This is, therefore, the anniversary of the day on which the organization took place, or commenced rather to develop itself. And from that time, as the body of the Church increased, the Priesthood in its various branches has developed itself into the organization as we now behold it in the earth. There were no twelve Apostles at that date; the material from which to draw them had not been gathered. There were no seventy Elders; the material from which to make them was not yet on hand. There were no High Councils, no Bishops’ courts, nor quorums of High Priests, Elders, Priests, Teachers or Deacons. There was no classification of the organization of the priesthood as there is today. Neither is there any organization of the Stakes of Zion, for there was no material of which to make them. It was indeed but the shooting out of the earth, as it were, of the plant, like the mustard seed, which is a small plant at first, having but a single stalk; and as it rises and receives strength and sends down its roots and spreads forth its branches, from one branch another grows out and shoots forth. And so from day to day, and from month to month, and from year to year did the Lord reveal through the Prophet Joseph Smith, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, revealing to the people the order of the priesthood and the order of Zion and her government, her institutions and the classification of the priesthood under the two great heads—the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood, with their various subdivisions and quorums. It was not till the year 1835, in the month of February, that the quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the quorums of the Seventies were organized in this Church. These were drawn principally from those tried men who composed Zion’s camp. There was a revelation given in this same year showing how a High Council should be organized in Kirtland, and shortly after another was organized in Missouri; and it also defined the laws governing the High Council and Stake organizations. At first, when the Church was organized on the 6th day of April, the general duties of the Elders, Priests, Teachers and Dea cons were defined in that revelation, given in that day, known as the articles and covenants of the Church. Elder seemed to be a generic name embracing all the branches of the Melchizedek priesthood, from the Elder proper to the Apostle, namely the Elders, High Priests, (after the order of Melchizedek), including High Councilors, Seventies, Apostles and First Presidency. This also corresponds with the language of the Apostle Peter, in his exhortation contained in his first general epistle: “The elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder.” Still he was an Apostle and was ranked as the chief Apostle in his day, holding the keys and presidency to bind on the earth and loose in heaven; but he ranked himself among the Elders, for this term seemed to be a general appellation for all classes of the Melchizedek priesthood. In a similar manner also the term “priest” was used among the Jews under the operation of the law of Moses, and subsequently in the Christian church for those who officiated in the lesser or Levitical priesthood; and this term included the presiding priest or Bishop who was called under the Jewish dispensation the Chief or High Priest. But there were lesser organizations or subdivisions under the term of Priest, Levite, Nethenims, etc.

There is one feature through all the organizations of the Church of Christ and all the administrations of the people of God, and that is: “No man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” This declaration of the Apostle Paul is borne out by history both ancient and modern. And the same writer says in another place, speaking of those who are called to preach the Gospel and of the faith that is be gotten in the hearts of the people through hearing the word of God: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” But in the new translation that passage reads: “Faith comes by hearing the word of God.” Another Scripture reads: “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent?” The idea I wish to convey is this: That all the various offices assigned to the servants of God in his Church and Kingdom are assigned to them and not in and of themselves and of their own choice, not at their own instance, but at the instance of the Holy Spirit manifesting itself through those who are appointed over them in the Lord, as Aaron was called to the priesthood, receiving his appointment by the manifestation of the will of God through Moses, his brother. There is another principle in connection with this, laid down in the revelations of God, namely: that all things shall be done by common consent. And therefore, where there is a regularly organized branch of the church, ordinations to the priesthood shall not be made without a vote of approval of said church. Now this must be understood in the spirit in which it was given, to apply not particularly and specially to every individual who may be admitted into a quorum of priests, teachers or deacons, so much as those who may be called to preside over the people in the capacity of a Presiding Elder; a bishop or a bishop’s counselor, and also priests, teachers and deacons, whose labors and duties may be required in that particular branch of the Church, they must be sustained by the votes and prayers and confidence of the people as well as by the appointment of those who are over them in the Lord. And for the same reason those who officiate in the more extended spheres, such as presidents of Stakes, high councilors and all Stake authorities, are put before the people in their several Stakes in conference assembled, for their approval, their confidence and support; otherwise their appointment has not the same force and effect upon the people. In like manner those who may be selected by the working of the Holy Spirit through the proper authorities, to preside over quorums, are nominated for this calling and are submitted to the members for their sanction and confidence. And then come the general authorities, who preside over and minister in the affairs of the Church in all the earth. These general quorums are not local, are not limited to any particular Stake or quorum. Their business is to see that the Gospel is preached to the whole world; to impart counsel by the spirit of revelation according to the spirit of their apostleship and calling, as special witnesses and messengers to the world of mankind. These are the First Presidency, and the Twelve Apostles and the Seventies, whose calling and duty is to labor under the direction of the Twelve and bear the gospel to all nations and to regulate the affairs of the Church in all the world. These general authorities are therefore brought before the general conference assembled, for their approval and for them to uphold and sustain by their faith and prayers; and in like manner are they presented at the several Stake conferences so as to reach the masses of the people, to insure the confidence and prayers of the whole people, for whom they minister, and whose eyes are upon them, who are criticizing their teachings, their walk and conversation be fore God and man. For God proposes to deal with His Church as a whole, and as a whole to hold them responsible to work the works of righteousness and to defend the faith of the everlasting gospel committed to them, and to purify and sanctify the whole Church and see that evil is put away from our midst, whether it be in the family circle or private walks of life, or in its high officials and those who minister in public capacities; in like manner he requires of them to see that all our organizations and municipalities are in a wholesome condition, and are administered with integrity and uprightness before God and the people. And as mouthpieces of the Almighty and as watchmen upon the walls of Zion, God requires of us his servants, the Apostles, the Elders, the Presidents of Stakes, and the Bishops everywhere, not only to minister in their several callings in a church capacity, but also to instruct officers of every kind entrusted with the municipal affairs of life, that they may be found faithful in magnifying the law and discharging the trust reposed in them in secular affairs as well as ecclesiastical; for civil organizations and powers of civil government are also appointed and ordained of heaven for the welfare of mankind, for the protection of all flesh. And those children of men who may not accept the doctrines of Christ and the priesthood, its administrations, counsels and decisions in the secular affairs of life; yet if they are disposed to obey good, wholesome rules of society in their civil capacity, as such are entitled to protection. And it is more especially for the benefit of this class of mankind that civil governments are established among men and recognized in heaven. It was with this view that Paul, in his epistle to the ancient Saints, told them that they should respect and honor the civil law, and governors in their places, and judges and officers in their condition of life, whose duty it is to preserve order and maintain peace and protect the rights and privileges of all alike, religious or irreligious, believer or unbeliever, saint or sinner; for religion with all its accompaniments and everything pertaining to it is a matter of conscience between man and his Maker, and for the exercise of which he is held alone responsible to his God and unto his co-religionists, who place themselves under its guidance and control. But the civil power extends its protection to all alike. One of the great evils that has afflicted mankind has been the bigotry of religious priests, and the blind superstition of religious zealots, who seem to have lost sight of this principle, the government of our Heavenly Father over his children, that in his efforts to exalt his children he has never resorted to force or attempted in any wise to coerce the human mind. The light of truth, like the glorious light of the sun, shines unobstructed, free to all; and all are at liberty to draw a veil over their faces if they choose, or shut themselves up in a dungeon and lock out the rays of the sun, or they may walk out in the sunlight, open their windows and let it into their dwellings; so is the free light of heaven imparted to all the sons of men. The Lord has reserved to himself, however, the right to call unto judgment all his children for the manner in which they make use of the opportunities and privileges afforded them. “This is the condemnation,” says the Savior, “that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.” So many people walk in darkness at noonday, when the light of heaven shines in its glory and effulgence they are surrounded in darkness. When the light comes to the righteous they will hail it gladly, and though it may be at first in the distance, they will mark it as they would the dawn of the morning star, or a light shining in a dark place, and they will give diligent heed to it as it approaches, until they enter into its effulgence and glory. Such is the experience of the Latter-day Saints; such is experience of those who love the light rather than darkness and who are waiting for the salvation of Israel; they received the testimony of Jesus when it was first sounded in their ears. Hundreds and thousands in different parts of the world have witnessed the dawn of this light, have heard the sound thereof in the distance, have gone in search of it, have captured the first ray that penetrated their minds and followed it until it has led them finally to the possession of eternal life. These are they whose deeds are good. Though they may have erred in many things because of false doctrine and the traditions of men and the fog that beclouded their minds and the minds of their fathers, yet since the truth made its way to their hearts they embraced it gladly, and they have loved and followed it still. While, on the other hand, those who love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil, are fighting against the light and will shun it when it approaches, like the thief at the approach of the officer of the law, and conceals himself in darkness. So with those who love evil, who have abandoned themselves to wickedness, who have given themselves up to hypocrisy and to the lust of the flesh, and who sell themselves to the enemy of all righteousness to work wickedness for gain; darkness reigns in their hearts, and they become the children of disobedience, hating the light because their deeds are evil. Truth needs no constraint; it exercises its power and dominion over the children of men by virtue of its excellence, its beauties, its attractions, its loveliness, the good fruits that flow from its observance, the peace and happiness that attend it; the fruit of truth and righteousness is delicious above all other fruit. The strength and power of Jehovah are with the good and virtuous of all His children; His power and His love are made manifest through the truth; order and peace are the fruits of the laws and regulations that He prescribes, and which recommend themselves to the intelligent or thoughtful children of men, and the results thereof are only peace, union, fellowship and love. Even the penalties that are attached to the laws of heaven prescribed in the Gospel of the Son of God, are not instruments of vengeance, of wrath and indignation, with a view to the utter destruction of the children of men. But rather the instruments of restraint upon the evil deeds of the wicked and ungodly, to deter them from encroachment upon the righteous, in their evil course of self-destruction. Even the damnation of hell, threatened in the Scriptures upon those who continue in their unbelief and disobedience, is but the natural fruit of their unbelief, and neglect of the blessings that were held out and designed to be bestowed upon them. The same may be said of the indolent and the slothful of the children of men in a temporal point of view. When the Lord says to his people, here is a beautiful earth I have formed for you, and there are the elements within your reach—the grasses, the streams of water which flow pure as the breezes of heaven, free to all; here are the animals, I place them under your control; and here are the trees bearing fruit, and the grain and vegetables containing seed in themselves; go forth now and occupy the land, cultivate, improve, embellish, ornament and gratify your eye, your taste, and satisfy your wants, eat, drink, and be merry, plow the ground, cast in the seed, and I will send you the rains to water the earth, and make it fruitful to reward your toil; and this covenant I make with you, that so long as you see my bow in the heavens, seed time and harvest shall never fail you. “But,” says the sloth, “I will not do it, I wish to go and lay me down under the shade of the trees in the hope that some kind soul will bring me a little water to quench my thirst, and then bring me some fruit, and put it into my mouth, and then wag my jaws, or I lay me down and die.” Our Father says: “Then die like a fool; the penalty is your own, and the eternal mandate of heaven shall not be revoked to indulge your idleness.” And the same may be said of all those who disbelieve in Christ, and who reject the words of life when they are proclaimed in their ears without money and without price, and the ordinances of heaven made free to all. Those who disbelieve, they perish, and what is the condemnation they bring upon themselves? The condemnation of the sloth. He perishes in his idleness; they in their ignorance and their utter disregard of the means of grace, losing all the precious things that others enjoy who put forth their hands and partake of the tree of life. And when they die and go hence, they will wake up in the spirit world, finding themselves as dark as they were in the natural world. He who is filthy, then will be filthy still, and he who refused to be enlightened, will be found to be in darkness still, yea, in outer darkness, because he despised the light and fought against it, because his deeds were evil; he finds association with kindred spirits who like himself refused to obey, refused to put forth their hands and partake, and rejected the proffered gifts of heaven. Their punishment is that of ceaseless remorse, fully conscious of blessings cast off and rejected, which blessings others are permitted to enjoy, but which they are not, because of their sins and transgressions, and their own neglect of the means of grace. Their torment is the torment of the damned, and it is like the smoke that ascends up forever and ever; among them is found weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, to use the language of the Scripture. But for what? For blessings lost, for opportunities gone, for privileges ignored, for the means of grace, for glory and exaltation once within their reach, which they, in their pride, would not receive, for being deprived of the presence of God and the Lamb, and the holy angels and the sanctified ones, and of the keys of immortality and eternal life and everlasting increase vouchsafed to the obedient, while they are doomed to perpetual darkness, which they have chosen in lieu of the blessings of the faithful, and in which condition they will live to prey upon each other and to work out the same evil passions which they delighted to indulge in while in the flesh; the devil, who deluded them, will rejoice over their downfall, and will reign over them until, peradventure, the time shall come when the long-suffering and mercy of an indulgent Father shall cause him to send messengers from the terrestrial or celestial world, as the case may be, to see if there are any among them who, by their sad experience, have learned to appreciate the light, and are yearning for a better condition. And if they do, the offer of salvation may again be made to them, and they, through the means that our Savior has wrought out for them, and through the ordinances of the House of God, and the servants and handmaidens of God who may be called priests and priestesses, to administer for and in their behalf.

Such is the beauty and extent of the plan of salvation which God has revealed to his children on the earth. And truly it is as Paul has said of it—good news, glad tidings of great joy revealed to all people; joy to the righteous, and will be a joy to all people who appreciate it, henceforth and forever. And that we as a people may be worthy of it, walking in the light, and that our pathway may grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day, is my prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Rest Signifies Change—Time As Related to Eternity—Wonderful Mechanism of the Human Body—Integrity in the Face of Opposition

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at Brigham City, on Sunday Morning, October, 1879.

I feel somewhat weary in body from the effects of labor and infirmities; and were I to consult my own feelings I would be inclined to waive this privilege, and sit and listen to my brethren. Indeed, I may say I rather counted upon a rest in coming to Brigham City; yet I never allow myself to shrink from bearing that portion that properly attaches me in life to the calling and duties devolving upon me. I feel that we are all here in a school, that we have a work to perform; and if when we shall have done that work we shall be satisfied with it, we will not regret having worn ourselves out in accomplishing it. But on the contrary we shall rejoice at our success in having got safely through and entered into the “rest” which is prepared for the people of God in the future state. This is a scriptural phrase, implying that there is a rest beyond for the people of God. But I have sometimes thought that strictly speaking rest was only a change, and that a change was rest; because to be absolutely at rest, to be entirely free from labor and care would be inconsistent with our existence; in such a condition our being would be a blank, a nonentity. The course of God, we are told by the prophet Nephi, is one eternal round; that like eternity, it has neither beginning nor end, and is illustrated in the Book of Abraham by the hieroglyphic of the circle. You may start upon this ring at any given point, and in traversing it you will come to the same point—it is without beginning, without end.

We sometimes speak of eternity in contradistinction to time; and often say, “through time and into eternity;” and again “from eternity to eternity,” which is simply another form of expressing the same idea, and “pass through time into eternity.” In other words, time is a short period allotted to man in his probationary state—and we use the word time in contradistinction to the word eternity, merely for the accommodation of man in his finite sphere, that we may comprehend and learn to measure periods. And for this purpose the Lord gave unto Adam his reckoning after the move ments of the planets, which would appear to him stationary, or at least comparatively so, making a suitable standard by which man in his mortal state may measure periods and count out the days and the months and the years and the cycles.

The Scriptures speak of a time “when time shall be no more.” And the Apostle John in his visions, while banished to the Isle of Patmos, heard the angel say, “time shall be no more.” We may not fully comprehend the meaning and the purport of this expression. All phrases or expressions whether used by men, angels or God have a relative meaning, as one thing is compared with another; and to understand the full force of them, we must understand that to which it has reference by comparison. I simply understand by this, that so far as we are concerned, time will be no more when we shall be merged into eternity, and we cease to reckon our periods by the diurnal revolutions of the earth, and the changes of the moon, etc.; when we shall enter into a sphere where we can mingle with the gods and become acquainted with their reckoning, and the eternal periods or cycles of revolutions of numberless creations in space, which today the most profound astronomers of the earth are unable to fathom or mark their place of beginning. And this is called eternity by man, and, as far as man is concerned, is in contradistinction to other periods and modes of reckoning known and in use among the Gods. For they have their periods and reckoning as well as we, only on a vast and, to us, incomprehensible scale. We are in a state of progression, very small beginnings, but onward and upward for a more exalted sphere, in which they move. But I conceive of no stopping place; I conceive of no absolute resting place, but only, as before remarked, a change, a change in our circumstances and conditions, and consequently a change in our labors.

I speak now of man as an immortal being, having no reference to this earthly house of our tabernacles; for this mortal house which we occupy for the period of a few short years upon the earth, will not be associated with the immortal man—the god in embryo. The clothing we wear covers the nakedness of the body; it answers a good purpose for a little season—until it becomes worn out, when it is cast aside as of no further use for that purpose. So with the outer house of our tabernacles. This mortality serves the purposes intended for a few short years until it is worn out with use, like the farmer’s agricultural implements, like the machinist’s or mechanic’s tools, or any other piece of machinery—for the human body is one of the finest and most perfect pieces of machinery known upon the earth; there is none superior. Indeed, most of the mechanism employed by men in various branches of industry is founded on the anatomical structure of the human body; the angles, the joints, the tendrils, the cords by which they are bound together; the wonderful construction not only of the outer portions of the body, but the very fine mechanism of the nervous system, and also that of the eye, the ear, and of the means of sensation, and that by which knowledge is communicated from one part of the body to the other. If the finger be abused or injured, a telegraphic communication is made to the seat of knowledge—the government of the body; conveying the information that a finger is in danger; and wherever pain is felt, in whatever part of the body, it is but the ringing of the bell of alarm, living notice of a hostile attack, and to make preparations for defense, lest the enemy making the assault take possession of the citadel and destroy it. The wonderful mechanism of the nervous system, through which the spirit makes its impressions upon the body, is, as it were, an intermediate organism between the fine spiritual body and the coarser elements of our tabernacles. And those who have given the most time and study to this wonderful machine are led to fully appreciate and endorse the saying of the Psalmist, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Its adaptability to the uses and purposes intended, with its remarkable endurance when suitably guarded and protected against disease and what we term accident, is in itself sufficient to call forth the admiration of all intelligent beings. We look upon an aged person, say, 70, 80, 90 or 100 years old, and realize that there is a machine, a mechanical structure—shall we call it a model representing perpetual motion? Not exactly, but a machine that has been in motion say, 100 years; a double action pump that has been constantly going, distributing the fluids of the system by way of keeping up a constant circulation of the blood; sometimes working very hard to remove obstructions arising from colds and other causes to keep the channels from becoming stopped up, and at other times working slowly. And the functions of the body are ofttimes kept in such constant use for such a period of time without the touch of the mechanic to repair a break unless it may, perchance, be the surgeon’s saw to remove a disabled limb that threatens to encumber the whole body, or the tying up of a broken artery to prevent the escape of the vital fluid. But otherwise the most skillful physician is unable to make a single repair or improve any part or portion of it; and the most he can do is to give something to be taken into the stomach to effect a chemical change on the fluids of the system, to neutralize perhaps an excess of the acids, thus working a change in the quality of the blood, and consequently a change in the deposits that are being made in all parts of the system by the circulation of this fluid. But this wonderful machine is kept in motion by what power? We say it is the power of God; we say it is in Him we live and move and have our being. And, yet, He always works through means, all His wonderful works being performed by agents; but He is not confined to one agent nor any special method in performing His works. But there is a spirit in this earthly tabernacle of ours that is relative to our Father and God, and who is the owner of this tabernacle, and for whom the tabernacle is organized as his dwelling house. It is this spirit that keeps the functions of this tabernacle in motion; when this spirit leaves the body, it is either because the Father calls it away, wishing to use it in another sphere, considering the time it has spent in this tabernacle sufficient for the purposes required, and therefore takes it to a higher school, through special design to do a special work; or it may be, it has used its tabernacle until it is so worn out that it has become like a bow which has been long and constantly bent—it has lost its elasticity; its bones impaired in strength, its muscles stiffened, and the whole frame ready, like our old clothes, to be thrown aside; and the spirit comes to the conclusion that it has had its run with this old tabernacle and that it is time this old garment were laid aside for a new one. Our Father comes to this conclusion and gives the spirit a ticket of leave, and removes it into another sphere. But this is all necessary as a school for us. The various pains and sorrows to be endured in life are all necessary in their time and place; the trials as we term them, are all necessary in their place, they are all a part of the scheme of education or training to prepare us for the future. One of the sacred writers, in speaking of Jesus, said: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” And again: “For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” It is measured out to you and me in the providence of the Lord; but for him there was a storehouse to draw upon, as it were, without measure. He could continue to heal the sick and raise the dead and perform great and marvelous things, and yet the supply of vitality was not in the least abated. Mortals less gifted and less favored who should be the means of healing many sick by the power of God, would feel that in taking their infirmities upon them, they were sinking under the weight, and would want to hie themselves away to rest and recuperate their exhausted frames. Jesus was an exception in this respect; he took upon himself our infirmities and bore our sickness, as had been predicted by Isaiah the prophet. He truly did heal the sick wherever he went; and some found that if they could even touch the hem of his garment the disease from which they suffered could be rebuked; and one instance is given where this was done, in which case we are told, virtue went out of him. But notwithstanding the great burden that he bore, together with the vast amount of vitality that was at various times communicated from him to others, he did not faint under the load; his mortality did not give way. But no man, unsupported as he was, could have done it without sinking under this weight; none other could have grappled with devils and cast them out of individuals and held them at bay, as he did, without suffering from bodily exhaustion, and therefore had to seek retirement and rest. He, however, waged war constantly, and was well prepared for this work, having an inexhaustible source of strength to draw from, the Spirit having been given to him without measure. But at length the time came when the Father said, You must succumb, you must be made the offering. And at this dark hour the power of the Father withdrew itself measurably from him, and he was left to be taken by his enemies, and, like a lamb, was led to the slaughter, but he opened not his mouth, because his hour had come. And when he was led to exclaim in his last agony upon the cross, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? The Father did not deign to answer; the time had not yet come to explain it and tell him. But after a little, when he passed the ordeal, made the sacrifice, and by the power of God was raised from the dead, then all was clear, all was explained and comprehended fully. It was necessary that the Father should thus measurably forsake his Son, leaving him to his enemies, otherwise they never could have fulfilled what had been prophesied concerning him. So we may say with others, it is only a sample for us to reflect upon, that may be equally applicable to us all in our times and seasons.

It is not necessary, in the providence of God, that we should all be martyrs; it is not necessary that all should suffer death upon the cross, because it was the will of the Father that Jesus should so suffer, neither is it necessary that all the Saints of this last dispensation should perish because our prophet perished, but yet it may be necessary that some should, that a sufficient number of faithful witnesses of God and of his Christ should suffer, and even perish by the hands of their enemies, to prove and show unto the world—the unbelieving and unthinking—that their testimony is true, and that they are ready not only to bear testimony in word, but in deed, to sustain and honor their testimony through their lives; and also in their death; and greater love than this no man can have for his friend or for his bosom companion, not even David and Jonathan, whose love for each other is said to have surpassed the love of woman. No one can give a stronger assurance of his devotion to the principles he has received and which he teaches to his fellow man, than to patiently endure suffering, for their sake, and, if need be, to continue that suffering and endurance even unto death.

In the economy of heaven, it has been deemed necessary, at various periods of the world’s history, that such witnesses of Christ should suffer death for their testimony’s sake, and that others may yet have to suffer in our own time is probable. Nay, the Scriptures give us clearly to understand that such will be the case, that more or less will suffer, but to what extent the servants of the Lord may be called upon to thus suffer is not given us to know, nor is it necessary we should. For what difference does it make when we have performed a good work or so far completed it that the Lord accepts of it and is willing for us to pass behind the veil, and perhaps gives his consent whether we go by a bullet or through violence at the hands of our enemies, or whether it be by a lingering sickness? In most cases the former would be preferable, so far as we are personally concerned, for in such the pain and suffering would be slight, although it would be calculated to shock the sensibilities of living friends who would mourn over us.

In philosophizing upon these things, I scarcely have a tremor or thought or care in relation to the death I may suffer, or when it shall come, or how it shall come. It matters not when or where or under what circumstances it may be, my feeling is as it always has been—it will be all right. I take no more thought or care of this matter that the infant child does about the preparation of its food. The Lord cares for us and such matters, and will order them in their time and season.

But there is a principle involved. When a man is faced by his enemies, when the wicked conspire against the righteous, threatening death and destruction if he does not turn truant and deny our God and obey their behests; all this is calculated to try the faith of the people and put them to the test, as to whether they have more confidence in God and his promises, than in his Satanic majesty and the host of his servants upon the earth, who in many instances offer them what they have not power to give. They remind me of the devil when he took the Savior into a high mountain and showed him all the riches of the earth, promising to give him all he could see if he would only fall down and worship him. The Savior re plied: “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” He did not revile him by telling the poor devil that he did not own anything, that he had not the power to give what he proposed to; but merely quoted the Scripture referred to, which was applicable and suitable for the occasion. And I for one propose to obey the command; and this is all we need say to our enemies when they place us in similar circumstances. They may say, “you are a very great people in your way; you are a very economical and frugal people in your way, and are predisposed to be peaceful. You have redeemed the desert from sterility, and built up fine homes, and made roads, railroads, and telegraph lines, and you possess all the elements and natural advantages calculated to make a people prosperous and happy, and a nation great; and there are many good things to commend in you. But then, you have one evil existing and encouraged among you which we deplore and which we are desirous and determined to eradicate. Now, if you will renounce that and cast it from you, we will give you the right hand of fellowship and be friends, and all the fullness of the earth is yours; and we will welcome your delegate, your representatives and your senators to Congress, and we will give them a seat by our side, and we will even call off our dogs of war, and withdraw our governor, and judges and marshals and attorneys whom we send to harass you, and also the little cur dogs that follow along barking at your heels; we will call them off, and let you possess the earth in peace if you will only deny your principles and lay aside those which we pronounce to be evil, and fall down and worship God as we do.” Whether we will be true in all these things; whether we have the same confidence in God, the God we serve, who has led us all our lives and been true to us in all conditions and circumstances, and to the promises made to us up to the present time; whether we will still trust in him, and face the cannon’s mouth, if need be, or face death in any form it may come, or imprisonment, if that form of treatment is preferred, or anything that they have power to inflict upon us, rather than deny our God. “How far will they go,” says one? I answer, just as far as our Father permits them, and no farther. He has set bounds to the waves of the ocean and he has also set bounds to the wrath of the wicked. He controls the elements that war in the heavens—the fearful thunderstorm—that darkens the firmament and that shakes the earth with its roar, the vivid lightnings that add terror to the scene, the tumultuous waves that leap and dash in the fury of the gale, and the earthquake that bellows forth its lurid flames, which make men tremble at the gaze. But He speaks, and all is still; the thunders are hushed, the clouds dispersed, the lightnings cease and the belching of the earthquake is heard no more; all is peace and quiet. So with the wrath of man and of nations that may be heard raging in the midst of the wicked, under the control of the prince and power of the air, who works and controls in the midst of discordant kings and rulers who array themselves against each other. Nations are at loggerheads, and war is proclaimed; the energies of war are set in array, and misery and death stalk in their wake. And again by some slight means, the Lord changes the fate of nations and turns the fortunes of war, and changes the tide of events, and all human calculations fail. He causes some angel of his to put some obstruction in the way of the march of some general and his army so that he arrives, perhaps, at the scene of battle five minutes too late; he causes a chariot wheel to fall off or some slight accident to happen to an engine of destruction, and the best calculations of the shrewdest officer and the proudest king fail and their works come to nought. He sets up and pulls down men and nations at his pleasure. He did this in the case of the first great and proud monarch of the world—the King of Babylon who swayed universal scepter upon the earth. He was a strong-minded, and strong-willed and haughty monarch; but God taught him by an extraordinary and humiliating experience to know that the Lord, the Most High God rules in the heavens and also controls the affairs of men as it pleases him. And his bitter experience God caused to be written as a warning to kings and rulers and the great ones of the earth; and they are lessons of warning equally appropriate to every human soul.

I have occupied more time than I intended or thought I could. I pray God to bless us in all our labors, that union, peace and love may abide in your midst and in your habitations, and that prosperity may attend you in your business, that the difficulties which annoy you and impede your progress may be removed and the dark clouds that today seem to hang over your heads, be dispersed and the genial warmth of the sun’s rays again be felt among you, that the hearts of the Saints may be cheered, and those who feel the weight and responsibility of carrying on the work you have so nobly undertaken, be encouraged and relieved from any apprehensions they might have felt in consequence of the misfortunes and losses you have recently sustained, which may God grant, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

There is a God—Communion With Him An Inherent Craving of the Human Heart—Man in His Image—Male and Female Created He Them—Spirit and Flesh—Mortal and Immortal

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered in the Meetinghouse, Beaver City, Beaver County, Utah, on Sunday Morning, March 3, 1878.

“And God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”—Gen. iii, 26—28.

In Gen. v, 1, 2, we read, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.”

All mankind feel instinctively that there is a God. I admit that many people try to reason themselves out of the idea and into a state of infidelity, or into atheism, but it is very hard for them to do it, or to satisfy themselves that they are correct when they think they have done it. And the universal feeling that may be set down to be common to all nations and people bearing the human form, is that there is a God; and there is a yearning after him, and a desire to worship him, however difficult it may be to satisfy themselves of the manner in which they may worship him acceptably.

On one occasion our Lord and Savior said to the people among whom he ministered, “Ye worship ye know not what, but we (speaking of himself and his disciples and followers) know whom we worship, and we speak the things we have heard of him, and we know what we speak, and yet you receive not our testimony.”

The Jews were in possession of many laws and regulations given to their fathers, and they were taught the true and the living God, but darkness covered their minds, and many of them walked in darkness at noonday, and enjoyed not the true light, as it was in Christ, pertaining to themselves and to their heavenly Father.

Heathen nations, as they are termed by Christians, have less definite ideas of their Creator, though all of them entertain the common notion of the Deity, and seek to worship him, though it may be in a crude way, and very undefined. Sometimes they are accused of worshipping the work of their own hands—images made of wood, of stone, iron and brass, and various other materials, and other nations, tribes and tongues are accused of worshipping animals of various kinds. They have their sacred elephants, crocodiles, or other beasts of the earth, whom they learn either to love or fear and worship, either as “friend” or “foe.” Yet when we become acquainted with these nations and find out their inward faith, we find that none of them look upon these as anything but representations of Deity. They do not see Deity before them, they do not walk, and talk, and converse, and eat, drink, and sleep with the being whom they have in their minds as God, but they set up before them something they can see, to represent him, and as soon as they begin and rear up before them some representation of Deity—one representative they consider to be about equal to another, and if it is the work of men’s hands, it is something that corresponds to their ideas of a Deity, and whether it be in his exact likeness or not they know not—not having formed a personal acquaintance with him, nor having any likeness of him, from which they can pattern after—one image answers as well as another, or one representation as well as another. But all these are but representations of Deity. And no nation has been found upon the earth, tribe or tongue, but what have some mode of worship, or some faith in the Deity, and feel the need of honoring a superior Being.

This craving of the human heart is universal; and education does not remove it. It is not confined to barbarous tribes and less cultivated people. All nations may have their skeptics, and in many enlightened nations of modern times, there is an evident tendency to infidelity; yet those who seriously entertain doubts of the existence of a Supreme Being, are generally those who have a smattering of learning and have become mad in this particular. The thorough scientist is forced to recognize the existence of the Great Supreme. They cannot get around it, or arrive at any other conclusion, than that the great wheel of nature is moved by an overruling hand, and the regularity and uniformity that is found in all her laws, are traceable to that Supreme Being, and unaccountable upon any other principle. It is almost impossible for them to arrive at any other conclusion, and where, in the history of the world, is it chronicled of any great astronomer that he was an infidel? Anyone that has the mind, and whose researches have enabled him to stretch out and begin to comprehend and fathom the greatness of the works of creation, that has not in the most humble and reverential manner acknowledged God? Those who deny him as I said before, are those that have a partial education; and a little learning is intoxicating to the brain.

As the great English poet says:

A little learning is a dangerous thing! Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring; Those shallow drafts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.

It is those that gain a little knowledge, and begin their researches in various branches of science, but do not fathom them, who are bewildered in their imaginations, and they tend to infidelity.

There is a theory in the human mind—I will say with a certain school of modern philosophers—to satisfy themselves and justify their infidelity; the bent and tendency of their inclinations is that way. But it is probable that the crude, undefined devices and erroneous notions and ideas of modern Christianity touching the Deity leads to this infidelity, as much as anything else. The advocates of Christianity are in a great measure to blame. When we begin to scan the teachings and inquire into the views of the leading divines of modern times, and examine their articles of faith and their discipline, the teachings of different Christian denominations on the subject of the Deity, we do not wonder that the reflecting, careful thinker, should repudiate their crude notions.

The old Catholic Church, who call themselves the Holy Mother Church, the English Church and the Lutheran Church, the two most extensive branches of dissenters from the Catholic Church, and the most of the lesser Protestant denominations, all declare to their followers that God is a spirit, without body, parts and passions. Some leave off the word passions, but they all say he is without body, or parts; and when they attempt to locate him, they locate him nowhere. His center is everywhere his circumference is nowhere. His form may be best described in the quaint language of Parley P. Pratt, “A footless stocking without a leg,” sitting upon the top of a topless throne, far beyond the bounds of time and space; that heavenly unknown place that some crazy poet sung about. And we are asked to believe in, render obedience to and worship this being. The careful thinker says, “I cannot; it is impossible for me to believe in a being that has neither body, parts nor passions, and that is located nowhere; I cannot conceive of him.” The elaborate thinker says, “I cannot conceive of any such being, nor can anybody else conceive of him. It is not within the sphere and range of our comprehension.” It is simply nothing at all; and in the exercise of his reasoning faculties, he chooses to disbelieve in their dogmas, and is set down by them as an infidel. Yet the true philosopher is not an infidel. He is only infidel to those vague ideas and theories that are in themselves monstrosities. Yet in the absence of true religious teaching, and being taught by the Christian world that the Scriptures do not mean what they say, and must be taken in some mysterious sense, they come to the conclusion that they do not know anything about the true character of the Deity, and it is not their province to teach him, only as they learn to know him in scanning his works. But in scanning his works we learn that he is a Being of order and law, and that all things are governed by law. Whether the minutest atoms that are examined under powerful glasses in the molecular world, that are scrutinized by the aid of the microscope, or whether we study the works of God in the vast unnumbered worlds that are rolling in the midst of the power of God, we find the same order. “All things are governed by law.”

If we study physiology or anatomy, we are led to exclaim with the Psalmist of old, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and see a beautiful harmony in all the parts, and a most exquisite design. This is proven by an examination of the various parts of the human form. And every organ adapted to its special use, and for its special pur pose, and combining a whole, a grand union—a little kingdom composed of many kingdoms, united and constituting the grand whole, the being we call man, but which in the language of these Scriptures was called Adam—male and female created he them, and called their name Adam, which in the original, in which these Scriptures were written by Moses, signifies “the first man.” There was no effort at distinguishing between the one half and the other, and calling one man and the other woman. This was an after distinction, but the explanation of it is—one man, one being, and he called their name Adam. But he created them male and female, for they were one, and he says not unto the woman multiply, and to the man multiply, but he says unto them, multiply and reproduce your species, and replenish the earth. He speaks unto them as belonging together, as constituting one being, and as organized in his image and after his likeness. And the Apostle Paul, treating upon this subject in the same way, says that man was created in the likeness of God, and after the express image of his person. John, the Apostle, in writing the history of Jesus, speaks in the same way; that Jesus was in the likeness of his Father, and express image of his person. And if the revelations that God has made of himself to man, agree and harmonize upon this theory, and if mankind would be more believing, and accept the simple, plain, clear definition of Deity, and description of himself which he has given us, instead of hunting for some great mystery, and seeking to find out God where he is not and as he is not, we all might understand him. There is no great mystery about it; no more mystery about it than there is about ourselves, and our own relationship to our father and mother, and the relationship of our own children to us. That which we see before our eyes, and which we are experiencing from time to time, day to day, and year to year, is an exemplification of Deity.

“What,” says one, “do you mean we should understand that Deity consists of man and woman?” Most certainly I do. If I believe anything that God has ever said about himself, and anything pertaining to the creation and organization of man upon the earth, I must believe that Deity consists of man and woman. Now this is simplifying it down to our understanding, and the great Christian world will be ready to open their mouths and cry, “Blasphemy! Sacrilege!” Open wide their eyes and wide their mouths in the utmost astonishment. What! God a man and woman? The Shakers say he was, and Ann Lee says, “Christ came in the form of a man in the first place, and now comes in the form of a woman,” and she was that form.

Then these Christians—they say he has no form, neither body, parts nor passions. One party says he is a man, and the other says he is a woman. I say he is both. How do you know? I only repeat what he says of himself; that he created man in the image of God, male and female created he them, and he called their name Adam, which signifies in Hebrew, the first man. So that the beings we call Adam and Eve were the first man placed here on this earth, and their name was Adam, and they were the express image of God. Now, if anybody is disposed to say that the woman is in the likeness of God and that the man was not, and if vice versa, I say you are both wrong, or else God has not told us the truth.

I sometimes illustrate this matter by taking up a pair of shears, if I have one, but then you all know they are composed of two halves, but they are necessarily parts, one of another, and to perform their work for each other, as designed, they belong together, and neither one of them is fitted for the accomplishment of their works alone. And for this reason says St. Paul, “the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord.” In other words, there can be no God except he is composed of the man and woman united, and there is not in all the eternities that exist, nor ever will be, a God in any other way. I have another description: There never was a God, and there never will be in all eternities, except they are made of these two component parts; a man and a woman; the male and the female. Some of those who are disposed to cavil will say, how will you explain the idea of a plurality in the female department? Here opens a subject involving philosophy and the philosophical propagation of our species, and it involves the great principles of virtue, and the laws that govern, or should govern through all eternity the commerce of the sexes; and the more they are scanned in the light of true philosophy and revelation, the more it will be proven that the superior wisdom of Jehovah has ordained that in the higher type of the Godhead, they are not limited in their union of the sexes; I refer to the female principle. On the other hand all the laws governing the commerce of the sexes, and the results flowing from them in the procreation of our species, show that the violation of the laws that God has ordained to govern and control the commerce of the sexes, produces disease, death and deteri oration of the human family; deteriorates the vital power and physical strength and longevity, and tends to weaken, lessen and destroy the human race, instead of building up, and sustaining and strengthening; while on the other hand, the strictly confining of a woman to one husband, tends to all that is lovely, to family organization and government, and the classification of human beings in groups, in families and kingdoms, tends to increase the vital powers, endurance and long life; and in every sense accomplishes the great object of creation.

There is a theory put forth by Mr. Darwin, and others, that is the school of modern philosophers, which is termed in late years, the theory of Evolution, that man in our present state upon the earth, is but the sequence and outgrowth of steady advancement from the lowest order of creation, till the present type of man, and that we have advanced step by step from the lowest order of creation till at last man has been formed upon the earth in our present sphere of action; in short, that our great-grandfathers were apes and monkeys. And how much satisfaction these philosophers have in the contemplation of their grandfather monkeys, we are left to conjecture; but such are the theories put forth by some of our modern philosophers. But we find nothing on the earth, or in the earth, nor under the earth, that indicates that any of these monkeys or apes, or any other orders of creation below man have ever accomplished any great exploits. So far as the history of this earth is known, whether written or unwritten, or whether written in volumes of books, whether engraven upon metallic plates, or whether found impressed in rocks, neither geologists, nor any other scientists have ever been able to show us any great exploits of any of these inferior grades of being to indicate that there was any such vitality in them, as to develop in their future progress, the present order of beings we call man. But if there is any truth in the history given us by Moses, this being we call man, is only God in embryo. And Moses tells us that the Creator conversed with this man whom he called Adam, consisting of male and female. He conversed with them, showed himself to them, spoke with them at different times, gave them instructions, gave them his law, visited them repeatedly in their new home, in the place we call the Garden of Eden, the garden that the Lord planted for man—eastward in Eden. And after he was driven out from the face of his Creator, from the Garden, and the veil was drawn between him and his Creator, yet from time to time God was wont to draw aside that veil and show himself, and we not only find that Adam and Eve had frequent intercourse with their Creator and talked with him personally as we talk with our children and they with us; but we find many of Adam’s descendants obtained like privileges of seeing their Creator, and speaking with him, receiving instructions from him. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, it was said walked with God, and enjoyed this privilege for three hundred years. From time to time the veil was drawn aside, and whenever he desired, and it was expedient to receive instructions and counsels from his Father and Creator he enjoyed this privilege, and the Father came and showed himself to him and spoke with him. The same may be said of Noah and of Abraham, who conversed with him, and the Scriptures tell us, furthermore, that Abraham killed the fatted calf, and prepared savory meat for a meal, and set before him and he ate with him.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, the Scriptures tell us; and she bare record of it, and there were many witnesses of this fact, and the record teaches us that he was begotten by the power of God, and not of man, and that she had no intercourse with mortal man in the flesh until after she gave birth to the Savior, who is called the Son of God. I will also say that Adam was called the Son of God.

Matthew, in giving the genealogy of Jesus Christ, traces it back from his mother, through the lineage of the fathers, back to David, from David to Abraham, from Abraham to Noah, and Noah to Adam; when he gets back to Adam he says, “Which was the Son of God.” But Jesus was begotten by the power of God and not by a mortal in the flesh. And the New Testament tells us that God sent his angel to visit this beautiful Virgin Mary, and to make known unto her that she was chosen of the Lord to be the Mother of Jesus who should be the Savior of this people. And the messenger or the angel sent to her was designed to prepare her mind, her heart and her faith for this great work unto which the Lord had chosen her. And he said unto her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, and therefore that Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” This Jesus, therefore, partook of this divine nature; he partook also of the human, the mortal, through the mother. And because he had partaken of the human—the mortal through the another, he became subject unto death, the same as all other mortal beings; for death passed upon our first parents, Adam and Eve, through their partaking of the fruits of the earth, their systems became infected by it, and the blood formed in their veins, and composed of the elements of the earth, which they partook, and these contain the seeds of dissolution and decay. And this blood, circulating in their veins, which was made up of the fruits of the earth—those things of which they partook—that formed their flesh, and made the deposits that constituted their muscle, and their bones, arteries and nerves, and every part of the body, became mortal and this circulating fluid in their systems produced friction which ultimately wore out the machinery of their organism, and brought it to decay, that it became no longer tenable for their spirits to inhabit, and death ensued; and this was the decree of the Father, “In the day you partake of this fruit, you shall die.” But this death was the death of the mortal, and not the immortal. The dissolution of the mortal tabernacle, which was the outer covering of their spirit. As I said, man was created, male and female, and two principles are blended in one; and the man is not without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord; and there is no Lord, there is no God in which the two principles are not blended, nor can be; and we may never hope to attain unto the eternal power and the Godhead upon any other principle. Not only so, but this Godhead composing two parts, male and female, is also composed of two elements, spiritual and temporal. Or in other words, two organisms; the one capable of dwelling within the other. The spirit dwelling within the outer tabernacle, answering to the spirit what our clothing answers to this body, as a covering and shield and protection. The spirit is also an element. It is not an im material nothing as some imagine. We read about material and immaterial things, and such terms are used by men for the want of more suitable language to correctly represent ideas; but in truth there is no such thing as immaterial substance. Though we are told that God is an immaterial substance, and you read the philosophic descriptions of the Deity by some of these learned divines, and it is all simmered down to an immateriality or nothing at all. But there is no such thing as immaterial substance in the strict sense of the word; and immateriality when rigidly defined is another definition for nothing at all. But we use these terms only comparatively to compare one thing with another, and we say that one thing is material because we can touch it with these hands, and we can handle it with these mortal bodies, we can see it with these mortal eyes, and it is visible to the sight, touch and so on, and hence we call it material; and what is not visible to these natural eyes, and what these coarse hands cannot feel, we call that immaterial or intangible; but these are only comparative terms.

If the veil were drawn aside, and we could see the spirits of those that once have lived here in the flesh, and that have passed behind the veil, or have been separated from their tabernacles, and now exist in the spirit world, if the veil was drawn aside and we could see them, if this second sight, this spiritual sight was enjoyed by us, that we could look through the eyes of our spirits instead of through the eyes of our earthly tabernacles, and could see these spirits and converse with them, we should find we could talk with them, and we would not talk through the organs of speech either. We could talk through other organs. This tabernacle may be upon the couch, the eyes closed, and all the sensibilities of the tabernacle suspended for the time being, and yet the organism of life may be kept up by the circulation of the blood, and the motion of the heart, the machinery of our organism may be kept in motion, and for the time being, kept from decay and dissolution, while the spirit is conversing with spirits. This some call a trance. In the scriptures, and other places it is called a vision. It is simply the spirit within us enjoying a higher privilege of conversing with spirits, seeing spiritual things and conversing with spirits or immortal beings; but they neither converse through these organs of speech, nor see through these natural eyes, but they see through the eyes of their spirit, and converse with the organs of speech that belong to the spirit, and if the spirits of men did not possess the faculties and power of communication, and conversing and carrying on conversation with each other before they came into this tabernacle they never would speak in this tabernacle. This is only an art; this art of speech—this power of sight—of hearing. Speech is not something peculiar to the tabernacle and belonging to this tabernacle. It belongs to the spirit, and the spirit teaches the tabernacle; and the spirit makes use of the tabernacle. When once it finds itself embodied in this tabernacle, it begins to use the fingers and hands of the tabernacle, and makes these its servants. The moment it is separated this tabernacle lies senseless. It has mouth and teeth and tongue and organs of speech, but it cannot use them. It has eyes, but it cannot see. It has ears but it cannot hear, and it has no power of using these organs. It cannot set itself in mo tion, it cannot keep itself in motion; it is the spirit that does all this. And when the spirit is separated from the tabernacle it still retains the power of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling and conversing; but the tabernacle loses all these powers, the moment the spirit takes its departure.

Now what is this spirit? Is it an immaterial substance? No? As I said before, that is only another definition of nothing at all. It is a being precisely as we are seen here today; and if you ask, “How does brother Snow’s spirit look when it is disembodied?” Why, you just look at me now, and you can answer the question. How does the spirit of my wife look? Why, just look at her and see. And if we were both disembodied at the same instant, we should scarcely know that we were changed any more than we would if we both started out of the door at the same instant and found ourselves outside, looking at each other, and do not see very much difference between us than what there was when we were both inside the house. Whether inside or out of it, we are the same beings. Conversing together? Yes. Looking at each other? Yes. The same features exactly. Our tabernacles are formed for our spirits, yes, expressly for our spirits. But why were they not all made alike? Why were they not all made just six feet high? And why were they not all, in every respect, all the same length; limbs, likeness, the same; the same length of an arm? You may just as well ask the tailor, “Why do you make different sized coats and pants?” And say to the milliner also, “Why do you make different sizes of dresses and other garments?” And their answer is, because I have so many different persons to fit, and I make the garment to fit the person. And that is the answer concerning the tabernacles. They are made to fit the spirits. I say, therefore, that God not only includes within himself the male and female principle, the same as man does, but it also includes the two elements which we call spirit and tabernacle, and these are only comparative terms, to illustrate in a crude way the idea of the two principles, the spirit being of finer material, possessing greater intelligence, more fully developed, and organized for greater and more glorious works.

Now touching the doctrine of mortality and immortality. Says one, “What is mortal and what is immortal?” These are only comparative terms, again; the same as we use temporal and eternal. Time means temporal—short lived. Immortal means that which reaches forward into eternity? And what is eternity? Why it is another term which we use—a comparative term to measure time, and we say time and eternity. And then the scriptures use other terms, eternities, and from eternity to eternity; while these are only so many definitions, or divisions of duration. But the scriptures tell us that time only is measured to man, that is to say, time as a term is used in reference to the short period belonging to mortality, while eternity is used in the measure of the time of the Gods, from one period to another, and the vastness of eternity none can comprehend. It is illustrated by Abraham, by the figure of a ring. He marks a round ring to give an illustration of his views of eternity. You may start anywhere on that ring and undertake to find the end, and you cannot, for it has none. You may have a starting point any place on the ring, but you cannot have any stopping place, and so the Scriptures in another place, more expressly use the term, that the course of God is an eternal round, and therefore it is called eternity. But this course of God being “one eternal round,” is marvelous in our eyes, and who can comprehend it? But we see, yes, we see right before us today, his image, man—male and female.

The first pair placed here was on a farm he had prepared for them; an earth he had organized for them, and where he gave them dominion as gods over it, as rulers over the earth and all things therein. Lucifer, who fell from heaven, when these evil spirits we read of rebelled against God the Father, and his angels that fell with him, set about the opposition of this earth and to wrest the dominion from Adam, and he has been trying it ever since, from the beginning till the present, to wrest the dominion of this earth from Adam and his posterity, and the only means by which he expects or hopes to accomplish it is, in short, to take possession of the tabernacles of Adam, which means a man and his wife—male and female, whom he called Adam, and rule the earth, and make the earth and the fullness thereof his servants. He has sought to do this, but he will not accomplish that evil design, for the Father has provided a way of thwarting him. The Savior will displace him. The name of Jesus has power over all these evil spirits, Lucifer and all the hosts of hell who are cast down to the earth, and have set up their abode in the tabernacles of men, and in many instances they have succeeded. They do not altogether get possession of the tabernacles of men, only in isolated cases. There are cases in which it seems that these spirits so far control the taber nacles of men as to find the natural spirit that owns these tabernacles and suspend the operations of their functions, and usurp the control of the functions of the body, and make these organs of speech speak the language of devils, and make these tabernacles perform the wicked works of the evil one; while the spirit that owns, and should control this tabernacle, is bound, as it were, hand and foot; and where these powers and functions are thus suspended in these isolated cases, we call them maniacs, because their natural powers are suspended, and they are under the dominion of devils. But others, and this embraces all of us, are more or less influenced by evil spirits, that prompt and lead to passions, and the lusts of the flesh; and to do many things in violation of the true laws of life and health, and of peace and glory and exaltation, and these evils to which we are prompted through the influence of these spirits are designed, little by little, to bring us into bondage, to sin and death, and to him who has the power of death, which is the devil.

Now the term devil we use also as a term representing a power that is at the head of the rebellion against God our Father. A power that stands at the head of that organized rebellion. A power that governs all evil spirits. He is called in the Scriptures that old Serpent, the devil, and Satan, and Lucifer, and a variety of names. These are applied to him, and all representing the chief power over that organized rebellion, that governs and controls these evil spirits, and that power holds the power of death over mortality, and over man in the flesh. And why and how do they obtain that power? I have said by influencing the parents in the first place, and then by influencing their poste rity after them, and violating the laws of their being, and thereby subjecting themselves to dissolution and death. The form of this organism does not necessarily imply dissolution and death. It is only the materials that enter into it that implies this, and that brings it about. The seeds of dissolution and decay are planted here, as I said, through the influence of this evil one leading us to violate the laws of our being, and which brings death in its train. The Father, in his economy, has foreseen this, and has provided a way of escape, provided a deliverance. He has provided the resurrection, a period when the spirits which are unclothed in death when the natural death comes, and which is the separation of the spirit from the tabernacle, when this natural death comes which unclothes this spirit, and leaves it in its native state unclothed, he has appointed a time when it shall be clothed upon the second time, and then in immortality, with tabernacles incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away. And this is the second clothing; this is immortal. This incorruptible is free from the coarser elements that enter into these mortal tabernacles, and free from these seeds of dissolution and decay, and those things that wear out, and destroy this tabernacle, that perish with their using. Herein then is life. We eat and drink and live, and yet that very eating and drinking destroys us. We partake of the fruits and elements of the earth, and that build up these mortal tabernacles, and when they have been built up to a certain stage, the very process by which we build them up destroys them again, and they perish with the using. They are worn out in the objects for which they are created. Just like our clothing, boots, and shoes, and hats, do they perish with their using. Not so with the immortal; the spirit is clothed upon with the immortal tabernacle. Is it like the mortal? Yes; and yet unlike, like so far as the form is concerned; the form and organism constituted to the spirit, and to the labor which has to be performed throughout eternity; but not composed of perishable materials. That immortal tabernacle, that incorruptible, will have no blood circulating in its veins. That is free from the gross elements of this earth, from the fruits of this earth, from the grains and vegetables of this earth.

We have a sample of this immortal in our Lord Jesus Christ. He was raised from the dead after he had lain in the tomb for three days. We are told in the Scriptures that he was quickened by the power of the Father, who raised him from the dead; and he looked as he did when he perished, his features were the same. He showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection, on numerous occasions. First, he showed himself to Mary, near the tomb where he was raised. When Mary came to the tomb at early dawn, she saw two angels by the tomb, and they said unto her, “whom seek ye?” (Of course they knew whom she sought, but they spoke to draw her out), and she, supposing them to be the guards, in the grey dawn of the morning looked in the door of the tomb, and saw he was gone. There was the winding sheet, and the napkin that had been about his head neatly folded and laid down, but no Jesus was there, and in her disappointment and grief, she turned to go away, and saw two men which were supposed to be the guards, and said, “If you have borne him hence, tell me I pray you where you have lain him.” They replied, “Jesus has risen; as he said unto you when he was living; go and tell his disciples that he is risen” and as she turned to go away Jesus was by her. She met him, saw that he looked just as he did when he died, and she recognized him instantly. And as she made the motion towards him, as if she would seize him by his feet and worship him; says he, “Touch me not, I have not yet ascended to my Father, I have just risen, I must go and report myself to my Father, and then I will come and visit you, but you cannot touch me yet. But go and tell my disciples I go before them into Galilee, as I promised them, and I will go to my Father.” After a little he showed himself to his disciples. He appeared to two of them the same afternoon, as they were journeying out of the village, a few miles out of the city, talking and conversing with them by the way side, and discovered himself to them in the act of breaking bread. Then he departed from them. The next time he appeared unto eleven of the disciples as they were gathered together in a room, and instructed them. But Thomas called Didymus was not present, and when these told him that they had seen the Lord he could not believe it, he says, “I must not only see him myself before I believe, but I must feel the prints of his wounds, where the nails were driven through his hands and feet, thrust my hands in his side, and feel the hole that was made by the spear when the soldiers thrust it into his side, and drew out his heart’s blood. Unless I can do this I will not believe.” So the next time the disciples were together, and Thomas was with them, Jesus came into their midst and showed himself to them again, and the first thing he said was, “Thomas, come here, stick your fingers in the holes in my hands, thrust your hands into my side, feel the wound as it was made by the spear in my side, feel the print of the nails in my hands and feet, and doubt not but be believing.” Not a word had been said, but Jesus heard his words, and knew the thoughts of his heart, and it took him unexpectedly. Now come, come said he, “Now apply the test you demand. Feel the print of the nails in my hands and feet, and thrust your hands into my side, and doubt not but be believing.” Thomas saw that the thoughts of his heart were known and heard, and the words of his mouth were known and read, and he at once exclaimed, “Lord! It is enough.” Well, says Jesus, “Thomas, you believe now that you have seen, but blessed are those who shall believe and have not seen.”

I know there is a great many think that they must show their great strength of mind by doing as Thomas did, and swear that they won’t believe anything till they see it; but Jesus says, “Thomas, you believe now you have seen, but blessed are those who believe and have not seen.”

Now, the first time Jesus appeared to his disciples they thought it was a spirit that had appeared to them, and to show them that he had his tabernacle with him, he says, Bring me something to eat, and I will prove to you that there is something more than spirit in me. “What have you to eat?” And they answered, “we have got some fish here and some honey.” “Bring me some fish and honeycomb.” And he took some of the fish and some honey and ate it before them. Now, says he, “be believing; the spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see me have.”

Here was an immortal being raised from the dead. In what did that tabernacle differ from the mortal tabernacle? Was there a change wrought upon it? Had it the same eyes in its sockets, same tongue in its head, same hands and feet, with the same holes made by driving the nails through them, the same hole made in its side by the spear that was run into it? Says he, “spirit has not flesh and bones as you see me have,” and he used the same teeth, the same organs, and ate before them, and showed them that there was his tabernacle. Then wherein did he differ from the mortal tabernacle? I answer, the blood was spilled, and that the purpose of the Father might be accomplished, he caused the soldiers to run the spear into his vitals that they might draw out the last drop of his heart’s blood. And when he was raised from the dead he was quickened by the spirit, by the spirit and power of the Father, and the life that was in him was not the life infused by the circulation of the blood, it was not that that kept the machinery of this organism in motion, it was the element called spirit. And this is the essential difference between the mortal and immortal.

As I said, a union of two principles—the refined element that is organized into spirit, and the grosser element we call tabernacle, organized as an outer clothing, the two united and blended together, and the two principles, male and female, united. And for what purpose? Why, we see here, for the purpose of procreation; for the purpose of endless increase, and the building up, and enlarging, and extending the kingdoms and dominions of eternity. Else why are all these vast creations, the shining orbs, that indicate to feeble man on this lower earth the existence of these glorified worlds! Why all this if there were not the works of the Gods of eternity going on, and that continually? And the need and extent thereof, none can tell; and to use the language of Enoch, the seventh from Adam, said he, “If the particles of this earth were numbered, and millions of earths like this, it would scarcely be a beginning to the number of thy creations, and thy hand is over them all.” And this is the object we worship. And, notwithstanding the Apostle Paul says, “There are Lords many and Gods many, yet” said he, “unto us there is but one God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” and that is enough for us. And we may say to every child, though there are fathers many and mothers many, but to you there is but one, and that is enough, that is enough for you. Honor your father and your mother, and let your father and mother honor their father and mother, and this is the chain of the Priesthood, and power let down from the eternities to man on the earth. And may God enable us to grow in this chain, and climb higher and higher, onward and upward, and work ourselves up to the eternal power and godhead. I repeat to you what the Apostle Paul said to the Ephesians, in his epistle to them; says he, “Brethren, let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, when he found himself in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with him.” But, says the narrow-minded bigot sectarian, What blasphemy! for man, in the form of God, to aspire to be equal with him! That is precisely the exhortation of St. Paul to his former-day Saints. Shall we continue in the estimation of Jesus for applying the same truth to us, or using the same exhortation that Paul did to his brethren? And St. Paul understood what he declared, and he wished to instil this same faith and feeling in numbers of his brethren, and cherish the same feeling, hope and aspiration, and labor and aspire to rise up and become one with God, because, says he, “You are his image, and you are his.” Why? We may aspire to be equal with him, and that is not robbery. Yes, Jesus, who found himself in the form of God, thought it not robbery to become equal with him. How can that be? I ask if any son robs his father if he grows up to became equal with him; attains to all the perfections of his father; attains to all knowledge, all wisdom, all understanding, all power, and performs as great works as his father performed? Did he rob his father of anything? Has his father lost anything because the son has attained to the same greatness, glory and perfection? No! The Scriptures tells us that God, in bestowing blessings, loses nothing. In giving it does not impoverish him, and in withholding it does not enrich him. He can impart light, truth, knowledge, power, wisdom, understanding, ability, lift up and exalt his creatures, and make them like unto himself, and instead of losing anything he is greatly enriching himself. He is enlarging and extending his dominions, he is multiplying his kingdoms, and his offsprings, over which he is extending his benign influence, and blessings, and glory, and honor, forever and ever. Then, says the Apostle Paul, Why your narrow-mindedness? Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ, who, finding himself in the form of God, thought it not robbery to become equal with him, growing up unto Christ, our living head, and that is the object of the organization of the Priesthood on the earth, and the classification, and organization of the Church of Christ upon the earth. It is not to exclude and send down to damnation, to hell, everybody that does not subscribe to our ideas and beliefs in an instant, nor in a day, week, month, nor a year, nor in this short life time; but it is to gather out men and women, and locate and organize them, and classify them together, and instruct them, and lead them on and inspire them with faith, and build them up, and teach them the laws of life and health, and lift them up that they may exercise faith, and lay hold upon the promises of God and climb up upon this chain that is laid down from the Gods of eternity to their children on earth. Climbing by this chain till they are built up in Christ, our living head, and become one with Christ Jesus, for, says the Apostle Paul, We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.

Now, again, that same Paul says, in the same epistle to the Ephesians, that Christ set in his Church first Apostles, secondly Prophets, and thirdly Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers, and gifts and healings. All these hath he placed in his Church for the perfecting of the Saints, and for the work of the ministry, and for the perfecting of his people, that they may grow up unto Christ, our living head, and all the parts being fitly joined together may become perfect in him. Here are the objects of this organization of this Priesthood, and the ordinances thereof, and the power of godliness, that is made manifest unto man in the flesh, and through it to urge them on, faster, further and further, until they shall attain to this fullness of eternal power and the Godhead. And that we may not lose sight of this high calling of God in Christ Jesus, which has come down unto us, and that we may not turn back to the beggarly elements of the world, but cast away the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life, and all the vanities and follies of this mortal state, and learn to appreciate our true position, and our high and holy calling, and labor to perfect ourselves through the Gospel, and in obedience to his ordinances, till we shall become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, rising up to the eternal power and Godhead and the perfection that is in him, is my prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Origin of Man and Attributes of Deity—Philosophers and Astronomers versus the Scriptures—Man Possesses the Power of Improvement—this Developed By Inspiration

Discourse by Elder Erastus Snow, delivered at the Fourteenth Ward Assembly Rooms, Sunday Afternoon, Jan. 20, 1878.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Gen. i, 26, 27, 28.

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him.”—Gen. v, 1.

“Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”—Gen. ix, 6.

Those who believe in the Christian religion, and in the divinity of the mission of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, believe also the words of the Apostle Paul, speaking of him in this wise: That he was in the likeness of his Father, and the express image of his person. And the accounts we have of Jesus represent him as being physically and in all essential parts, in the likeness of man. That he ate and drank, and partook of the elements that enter into the composition of our earthly tabernacle, that he was subjected to pain and to the infirmities of our flesh, and that he suffered all things that we are subject to in the flesh; that this mortality was subject to pains and penalties of death in him, as well as in mankind generally. In this particular his divine origin did not exempt his mortal tabernacle from the laws that govern our flesh, only in that, the Spirit from on High was given him without measure, and he had strength to withstand every form of temptation, and was able to obey the law pertaining to his existence here without committing sin. Otherwise there was, so far as his person and outward appearance was concerned, no essential difference between him and Adam’s race generally.

There are a great variety of ideas and notions prevalent in the world at the present time, pertaining to the origin of man, and attributes of the Deity. There seems to be an instinct in man everywhere among all nations and peoples to worship a superior being. In this particular Christian nations are not an exception. True, in heathen countries, a variety of images, representations of Deity are set up for the people to worship, or to pay some deference unto them, as unto Deity. But the thinking portion of all these nations who encourage these various representations of Deity, do not for a moment admit that these gods, as they are sometimes called, made by man’s hand, of wood and stone, or other material, are really gods, or that they are worshipped as gods; but only the embodiment of the idea of a Deity, a representation of a superior being. And the fact of this prevailing sentiment of mankind and the universal necessity of doing homage to a superior, however crude and indefinite this idea is, and however varied in the minds of men in the different nations of the earth, yet, taken as a whole, it is the impress of Deity upon all that bear his form in the earth, recognizing him as Deity; as a Superior Being. With many Christian sects of our time, and for generations past, the idea of Deity has seemed to be very undefined. Many philosophers and divines have attempted to describe Deity. We have it set forth in many Christian catechisms and articles of faith. God was a being without body, parts or passions. This, for many generations has been taught by the Established Church of England, and by most of the Protestant sects, both in Europe and America; Deity is described by them as “a spiritual immaterial substance.” This word substance is used in connection with the word “immaterial.” A spirit immaterial, and yet a substance! I have never yet found a philosopher that was able to describe a substance that was not material. The idea of a Deity that cannot be located anywhere, that has no form or substance, or materiality, and described as a spirit! It is the best definition, to my mind, of nothing at all, like the quaint familiar phrase, “a footless stocking, without a leg.”

If we believe there is any truth in the writings of Moses, the Patriarchs, Prophets and Apostles, and the teachings of Jesus, if we would indeed be consistent Christians and receive the writings of the fathers, and believe what was said unto them, we must believe that man is made in the image of God, and consequently that we are of the same species as the gods. However childlike and feeble we are in this condition of mortality, we are nevertheless descended from the gods, made in their image and after their likeness.

And when Luke, in giving us the genealogy of Jesus Christ, traces his lineage back through his mother to David, who was the son of Jesse, and so on, he traces his descent until he reaches Abraham, who was the son of Terah, and so on to Noah, who was the son of Lamech; and when he reaches Adam, the first of our race, he says of him, “which was the son of God.” Oh, says one, we are told that Adam was created, not born. This is something I am not disposed to dwell upon much at this time. You can think of this as you please, whether he was created or born, or whether a man, because he is born, is not created. I do not understand the term creation as meaning something suddenly made out of nothing. I believe man that is born is as much created as the thing which is made in a mold and turned out to dry, which we call an adobie. It matters not whether it takes a few minutes to make it, or a longer period—it is created or made. And the term create I understand to be synonymous with the verb to make, and what is made is created, and what is organized is formed. And when it is written that God formed man in his own image and likeness, it does not describe the time or manner, but simply the fact of having made or created man in his own image.

It has been ofttimes expressed by the religious teachers of the Christian world, that God created all things in six days, and on the seventh day he rested. We read in this first chapter of Genesis, that in six days the Lord created the heavens and the earth. Now modern scientists attempt to confute this history given by Moses, by demonstrating that the earth has been formed through the operation of a long process of natural laws, and that it never could be brought into its present condition in six days. Of course, those who reason thus assume that the days here spoken of were periods of the same duration as the days counted out to us by the revolution of the earth on its axis, every time it turns upon its axis and marks the day and night. But I must be allowed to call attention to this one fact, that in the beginning of this history Moses tells us that when God first organized or created the elements of this earth, that it was without form and void; that is to say it was without its present form, and that darkness was upon the face of the abyss. Then how were the days reckoned? Until our earth assumed its position among the planets, and began to perform its revolutions, and the earth was so far completed as to assume its position among the heavenly orbs, and perform its revolutions as now, present modes of reckoning time could not be appointed to man—either our days or months or our years, all of which are determined by the revolutions of the earth upon its axis, and the moon around the earth, and the earth in its orbit around the sun. But what is the rule or measure of time by which God reckons his labor and work? Is it the time measured to the inhabitants of Mars or the little planet Mercury that describes its revolution around our sun in less than three months, and counts out four of its years while we upon the earth are counting one? Or is it after the time appointed for a more distant orb of our system, that is 160 or more of our years, in performing their revolutions around the sun, thus counting out its single year? Or were the days reckoned after the great cycle of the multitudes of systems moving in space around the common center.

Philosophers and astronomers have not lived long enough upon this earth, or kept a record of the heavenly bodies long enough to make any calculation of the length of this period. There is, however, one saying of Apostle Peter which reads—“Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” But whether that has any reference to the days that Moses speaks of, in which the Lord was engaged in the formation of this earth, we are not told. But be the periods longer or shorter, which the Lord called six periods, or days, in which he did his work, is of very little importance to us. Nor is it worth our time to question or contend with geologists or modern scientists as to the duration of these periods. It is a fact that the earth exists, and that it has its sphere in which it moves, and that it is appointed for the abode of man, and that we are here, and the fathers have told us we have descended from the Gods. And that when God said to his associates, let us make man in our image, after our likeness, he was not alone. And as Paul said, “there be gods many and lords many,” but so far as we are concerned, there is given unto us one God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And it matters not how many more, nor where they are located, nor what might be the extent of their power and dominion. We cannot comprehend it, we are mere infants, comparatively speaking, our ideas just beginning to learn how to shoot; we are striving to grasp the little within our reach, and we find we can but grasp a little; and it is in vain to attempt to look back to the beginning, if there is any, or to look forward to the end, it there is an end. But we are taught that the works of God are one eternal round, and there is neither beginning nor end.

We may jocosely ask ourselves the question, Which was first the goose or the egg? And again, Does the pumpkin produce the seed, or does the seed produce the pumpkin? You can answer the question just as you please, either in the affirmative or negative, and either or both would be, in one sense, correct. But say you, “That is not enough for us, we want to know where and how the first pumpkin was produced.” That is something we cannot tell, nor any other mortal being; you might just as well ask, when the last pumpkin will be produced. It is something that is absolutely incomprehensible, because there is neither beginning nor end, it is beyond the reach of human ken. But we accept the effect; we are here; the creation is a reality. We see a variety of solid rocks, and ask, How are they formed? Geologists undertake to tell us, and they refer us to the Book of Nature. But they are like other schoolchildren; they make a great many mistakes in reading. What they read correctly is correct; what they read incorrectly is incorrect. “It is as it is, and it can’t be any tisser.” And it is folly for geologists, or any other class of scientists, to assume that they know it all, or that they have read the Book of Nature from beginning to end, and comprehend it through and through.

Mr. Darwin, and a kindred school of modern philosophers, would fain try to impress upon us their theory of evolutions, and would have us believe we are descendants from, and only a little in advance of our ancestor, the monkey; and that other inferior grades of animals are aspiring to become monkeys; they fail to demonstrate their theories, simply because they are not demonstrateable.

We see an endless variety in the creations before us, variety in every species of animal life, and in every species of the vegetable kingdom, and the same may be said of the heavenly bodies. And so far as man is concerned, though evidently of a common origin, yet the variety is almost as great as the number of individuals; and though the general features of the face are substantially the same, yet that variety is so great that no two can be found exactly in every respect alike. No mother that has produced from her womb twins, however near they may approach each other, was ever at a loss to discern some difference by which one could be distinguished from the other. Nor even in the vegetable kingdom can we find this law of endless variety violated, nor yet in the animal kingdom. Where do you find any species except man endowed with the capacity of subduing the earth, and controlling the elements upon it? Moses tells us that God said unto man, “have thou dominion over the earth and subdue it, and exercise dominion over all the lesser species of animal life, and over the fruits and herbs which shall be given to you for meat.” Has any other branch of the animal kingdom done this? When man is first ushered into being, he seems more helpless than the calf or the goat, but in his progress and development he exhibits the power of the Gods; he seizes the elements, and commands them into form and shape to suit his convenience, and to serve his purposes; not only does his superior intelligence cause the king of beasts, and all branches of the animal kingdom, to crouch beneath him, but every element found to exist is at his service; by reason of this divinity in him, in its exercise and development, he chains the lightning, and makes it his servant to flash his thoughts or mandates over the earth; he touches the steam and makes it a motive power to waft him over land and sea. He makes all the elements within his reach subserve his purposes, and he invents the means by which he controls and handles them. I use the word “invent” because it suits the pride and vanity of a man a little better; but the more appropriate term, I should say is, inspiration, for no great truth was ever revealed to man that was not an inspiration. And when Watt’s, watching the trembling of the tea kettle lid, caused by the power of steam, conceived the idea of utilizing that power, was it invention or inspiration? When Newton, on seeing the apple fall from the tree, by questioning in his mind why it should fall downwards, why not fly upwards, or to the left or right, his mind was being led on from this simple observation to the comprehension of one truth after another until he was able to give to the world the laws of gravitation; and from that to searching out the laws governing the planets, so that astronomers today can make mathematical calculations of the future movements of the heavenly bodies, with much greater accuracy than the superintendent of the Utah Southern Railroad can calculate the speed of his train. Was this inspiration or was in invention?

When the fathers that labored to bring forth and develop truth, whether scientific or religious—for I hold all truth to be both scientific and religious; in other words, true religion embraces all truth, for it emanates from God, who is the fountain head of all truth, or in other words, who is in possession of all truth that is possible for us to reach at least. And for me to say that he has got to the end, I would no more attempt to say it, than to say that you or I have got to the end. It is not for me, in my imagination and folly, to place any bounds to or drive a pin to lariat the gods to.

But we see that this being called man, said to have been formed in the image of God, that he possesses the power of improvement, of advancement, ad libitum, and who shall set the bounds to the advancement and improvement of man any more than the gods of eternity? The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” “Oh blasphemy!” the narrow, contracted bigot will cry, “blasphemy! Paul, you naughty fellow, you had better take that back.” What, to exhort your brethren to cultivate the same mind and feeling, and desire and ambition, as were in Christ Jesus, who, when he found himself in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God! What an idea! Does not every father expect his son to grow up and become his equal? And does not every son born aspire to become like his father? And the child looks in the face of the mother, as the dearest creature it knows anything about, regarding her perhaps as perfect; her word is law, it knows no other. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” And as he thought it not robbery to be equal with God, when he found himself in the form of God, don’t you think differently. Why? Shall we not rob him? Oh no, we could not do it. Giving does not impoverish him, withholding does not enrich him. He is able to impart that which he possesses, if we are capable of receiving, and as fast as we are ready to receive, he is abundantly able to impart; he is not impoverished, while we are enriched; while we have waxed greatly, he has grown no less. And this he has ordained for those whom he has formed in his image and likeness. But, says the world, “These are things we cannot comprehend.” Very true, we cannot see the end of it; but we can see a little of it, if we cannot comprehend the whole. We may stand and look upon the chain, revolving and endless, and as it turns we may count the links, but we cannot find the end of it, neither can we tell the beginning. But we see the links, and it is a matter of very little importance to us whether we know or not how many links compose the chain, as long as we see that the eternal is one eternal round. We need not to try to find the end, we cannot do it, nobody ever did, and nobody ever will, simply because there is no end. And if you want to know which pumpkin produced the first seed, and which seed produced the first pumpkin, we say that neither you nor anybody else can tell, they cannot point to the time when there was either one or the other. But there was a time when we began to exist, was there not? Yes. Our spirit? Yes. Our earthly form? Yes. Will there be a time when our bodies will cease? Oh, Yes; that is something of daily occurrence, mankind coming and going. And so with all the creations of our hands. This house, in which we meet, when was this created? Oh, about 15 or 20 years ago. Still the philosopher will tell you that the trees from which the lumber was sawn, must have been hundreds of years old. Oh, to tell me that this house was made only 15 or 20 years ago, I know better; my knowledge of timber teaches me that the very trees from which the lumber was made, were several hundred years old. And the geologist will take you to the hills or along the beach and point out to you the evidences in nature of the long periods that must have elapsed since the formation of the sedimentary rocks, to say nothing about the primary rocks. And they will tell you that the period alluded to in Moses, in the history of Adam, and to the creation is scarcely a cipher compared with the period in which these elements of the earth have been coming into shape. What is all that to do with the great grand principle? We will say that the component parts of every implement formed by the ingenuity and labor of man are far older than the implement itself. A lady who makes a pound-cake, does it perhaps in a few hours; but the man that has not seen it made, and who knows not the source from whence it came, sees a raisin in the cake. Oh (says he), madam, how old is this cake?” “I made it yesterday,” is the reply. “Oh, but madam, this raisin grew on some vine surely, and my knowledge and experience teaches me that vines do not grow in a day.” But, the lady insists that she made the cake yesterday, saying, “If you wish to know how I compounded it, step into my kitchen and you will readily learn all about it.” By and by we may be permitted to step into the Lord’s kitchen or laboratory, there perhaps commence to take lessons in these matters, as we now may by stepping into the ironmaster’s shop, there to learn how he takes the different classes of ore, and by putting them through a certain process they are formed into pig or railroad iron. He speaks, he directs, and out comes his material at his command. We go into his shop and learn how this is done; we have not got far enough yet to know how these materials were brought together, how they were compounded. But it is enough for us to know that it has been done, and that somebody has done it; and we might as well say the railroad iron had no creator, nobody to design it, or command the elements to go together, as to say there is no God, because we have not the privilege of going right straight into his laboratory to find out how he commanded the elements together. We go down to the sea coast of old Salem or Boston; we see ships start out to sea properly officered and manned, under sail or steam, or both. In the course of a month, the same vessels return to port; and by and by they make another voyage, in about the same time. We see other ships start out, and it is a much longer or shorter time before they return. We know not where they have been or the several orbits in which they have been moving, but we know that they return. And although we may not know whither they have been, or whence they came, the time they have made, etc., the crew that manned them, and the captain that steered them, and the power behind them, all that commands them, know all about it. And yet our own observations should teach us that there was somebody that directed them, their movements were not the work of chance, but of design; that others perform their work and somebody has purposed it. And although we may not be able to measure the distance of the heavenly bodies, nor comprehend the extent of their revolutions, we see and know enough to convince us that they are all regulated by and subject to law; so that their laws are so well understood as frail mortal man, that even the number of them can be counted, and their movement understood, and their times and periods calculated.

Now, would not a man be as senseless to say, there is no God, as to say, there is no shipmaster that guides the course of the vessel, and no shipowner that controls them. Their periods are appointed by him who lists to direct them. So with man. As the Apostle Paul has said: “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.”

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.

What is the fountain from which we drink knowledge, is it from books? I say yes, if we have within us the inspiration that enables us to cull the good from the bad, the truth from the error, storing up that which is worth retaining, and casting away the dross. For we find that books are ofttimes a labyrinth of folly and human weakness; for men write as they talk, and they talk as they think. And when they think wrong, they talk wrong and write wrong. What is the standard of truth? Our Father and without him there is no sure standard for us. Though there are many of our own species before us, that are advancing, that are climbing onward and upward in the scale of intelligence and power, and we are striving to follow after and learn of them, yet the inspiration of the Almighty is the only true source of knowledge. As Job says, “But there is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” It is the candle of the Lord, and his spirit lights it. Proud, haughty, self-conceited men, do, often ignore this source of knowledge, and when they are recipients of his grace and inspiration, their hearts are too proud to acknowledge it. And if any have been inspired a little ahead of them, or have been favored with one idea in advance of their own, they, in their pride and bigotry, rise up and resist it. Thus it was when Galileo, whose mind had been susceptible to the inspirations of the Almighty, revealed to the world that the earth moved upon its axis. “Blasphemy!” they cried; and the power of the Romish Church was brought to crush the boy. And so it has ever been when prophet, seer, revelator, philosopher, or sage has given utterance to inspiration beyond his fellows; opposition was rife against him. “We cannot stand this innovation! Away with! Kill him, we can’t endure it!” This is why the seed of Abraham killed the ancient prophets, and why they persecuted Jesus: and it is also the selfsame reason why the prophet Joseph Smith was martyred; he went a little beyond his fellows in his theory of God, and eternity and immortality and godliness, and his theory of human associations and morals. He was a little in advance of the men of his time, and therefore they could not endure it. “Let him be slain, and let his people go to the wall!” What is the matter? “O, they marry their wives! They father their children, they honor and care for them, instead of casting them into the mire and filth of the streets to perish! The women they marry they take truly to their bosoms, and love, honor and cherish, and sustain and bless them, instead of secretly stealing around, more like low, crouching brutes than men, to seduce the fair daughters of Eve; and when they have gratified their lust, cast them off and their offspring, to be forever looked upon with reproach. O, you Latter-day Saints, we can’t endure you! You will not descend to a level with us, we congressmen are after you, we will teach you morals! No matter how many mistresses you may have, we do not enter any complaint against that phase of it, the bills we have introduced are not intended to prevent your having and keeping as many courtesans as you may choose to, but it is to prohibit your marrying them!”

Brethren and sisters, I will not detain you longer. God bless you. Let us be men and women, true to ourselves, true to our God, true to the holy religion we have received, and by and by, those who now scorn, revile, abuse, belie, defame, and seek to trample us in the dust, will honor our memory and bless our children.

That heaven may protect us is my prayer, in the name of Jesus. Amen.